Strap on Some Snowshoes | Black Hills Travel Blog
  • Strap on Some Snowshoes

Winter in the Black Hills offers plenty of outdoor activities, and one of my favorites is snowshoeing. It’s quiet, low-tech, and easy to do. Basically it allows us to get our hiking fix even in deep snow, and the best part is that it allows you to get out on the trails during the quiet time of year.

One of my favorite places to snowshoe is Deerfield Lake, west of Hill City. This 11-mile loop around the lake offers up terrific scenery and quiet trails. If completing all 11 miles sounds daunting (let’s be honest, snowshoeing is a bit slower than zipping around on a snowmobile or a dogsled), then just do a portion. There are three trailheads to choose from: Gold Rush, North Shore and Custer Trails. Gold Rush will start you out on a tail of the lake while the other two offer immediate views of the main body of the lake. You can’t go wrong with any of them.


To get to Deerfield Lake, take Deerfield Road (Highway 17) from Hill City; the lake is approximately 15 miles from town. Gold Rush trailhead is the closest, with North Shore and Custer Trails each a few miles further as you drive around the lake. For a trail map, click here.

If you want to do a group hike, take advantage of one of the several guided snowshoe hikes held throughout the Black Hills. The South Dakota Game, Fish & Park website is a great resource for viewing all of the upcoming hikes:

Snowshoeing with dog

These hike are a great introduction into snowshoeing because the park provides snowshoes if you don’t have your own pair. However, if you want to reserve a pair, you can do so through either the Peter Norbeck Educational Center (605-255-4464) or the Black Hills Trails Office (605-584-3896). The hikes are free, and if there is no snow, they will still hold a guided hike, sans snowshoes. It’s a win-win situation.

Remember that for hikes within Custer State Park or on the Mickelson Trail, you will need to hold the appropriate pass. Beginning on January 1, 2016, Mickelson Trail passes will be $4 for a day pass, or $15 for an annual pass. South Dakota State Park annual licenses are $30. (Purchasers of one license can also buy a second at half price!)

Get out there and have some fun in the snow!

About the Author

Robin EH. Bagley is a native South Dakotan who has lived in the Black Hills for more years than she cares to admit. She has spent the majority of her career in communications and marketing in the nonprofit sector. For the last eight years she has called Custer area home, living just minutes from Custer State Park and the Peter Norbeck Wildlife Refuge. When she’s not pursuing outdoor activities, she enjoys writing about the outdoors, reading and hanging out with her family and two dogs. Keep an eye out for her and her Rhodesian Ridgeback on the trails in the Southern Hills. And if you happen to need a Band-Aid or a granola bar, she’ll probably have one for you.

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