South Dakota has a number of trails with minimal obstacles. Some are very easy and others are wheelchair accessible. Here are just a few of them.
These links were found through Internet search. I would love to have some first-hand recommendations. With your help, we can share our knowledge with disabled people everywhere and also increase awareness of the need for more accessibility. Please e-mail me with your suggestions using the form in the sidebar.
Badlands National Park
The barren and rugged badlands of this 244,000 acre national park contain one of the world’s richest fossil beds. Ancient mammals such as the rhino, horse, and saber-toothed cat once roamed here. Today, the park now protects mixed-grass prairie habitat for bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, and black-footed ferrets.
Phone (605) 433-5361 Accessibility Maps
Door Trail 0.25 mile “boardwalk leads through a break in the Badlands Wall known as “the Door” and to a view of the Badlands.”
Window Trail 0.25 mile. “short trail leads to a natural window in the Badlands Wall with a view of an intricately eroded canyon.”
Fossil Exhibit Trail 0.25 mile “Fully accessible boardwalk trail features fossil replicas and exhibits of now extinct creatures that once roamed the area. “
Black Hills National Forest Phone (605) 673-9200 Brochure and Map
There are quite a few trails rated “Easy”, but not rated wheelchair accessible. Trails with difficulty ratings Check out this blog of Top 7 Black Hills Family Hikes
Roughlock Falls Nature Area 1 mile Map “Bird watching, wildlife viewing, fishing and picnicking can all be enjoyed in the nature area.”
Veterans Point Trail 0.75 mile paved trail among large ponderosa pines. Restrooms and fishing piers. At times, this trail is under water. Call first.
Osprey Trail (Black Hills Trail #58) has two loops, one .8 mile and another 1.5 miles.
Map & Brochure It is described as easy, but you should call first 605-343-1567 or 605-574-2534 to inquire about obstacles and trail condition,
Lacreek National Wildlife Refuge Phone (605) 685-6508 Map
Brian, from the refuge, describes the trails as relatively flat, mowed grass. “Not truly accessible trails but relatively flat, short, and easy hikes.”
Pelican Island Trail 0.25 mile “This walking trail provides visitors with the rare opportunity to view American white pelicans nesting on two islands within Pool 9 on the Refuge. During late April and early May, visitors will see thousands of white pelicans located on these islands. There are great blue heron, snowy and cattle egret, double-crested cormorant, and black crowned night heron rookeries on the islands as well.”
0.25 mile loop around the display pond. “Large willows, cottonwoods, and other shrubs often provides the opportunity to observe warblers and other birds species not commonly found in our grasslands and wetlands.”
Lake Andes National Wildlife Refuge Map Phone (605) 487-7603 Images
?? “At the Complex headquarters, a short nature trail meanders along the wooded shore of Lake Andes, passes through a series of small prairie ponds, skirts the edge of Owens Bay, and returns through native grassland uplands. The abundance of waterfowl and grassland birds make this an excellent trail for birding. ” On their map, this trail is shown as wheelchair accessible. However, one of the photographs shows a stretch of boardwalk which is maybe 4 inches or so above the dirt trail. That might be difficult for a power chair. Call to learn more.
Oglala National Grassland as described in the Dawes County, NE, site. As described in Britannica. The Grassland is in both South Dakota and Nebraska. The headquarters is in Chadron, NE but the visitor center is in Wall, South Dakota. Two trails are mentioned but with no indication of difficulty.
? The Toadstool Geologic Area in the grassland has a one mile interpretive loop. However, according to NebraskaTravels.com, it might be too difficult to include on this site. Mike Watts of the Nebraska National Forests and Grasslands says that the first 1/3 mile of the trail used to be accessible, but it has suffered a lot of erosion.
For questions about trails in the Oglala National Grassland or Nebraska National Forest you could call Mike Watts at 308-432-0390 or the Chadron Office at 308-432-0300.
Wind Cave National Park
Below the rolling prairie grasslands and forests of this national park lies Wind Cave “one of the longest and most complex caves in the world. Named for barometric winds at its entrance, this maze of passages is home to boxwork, a unique geologic structure.” The cave was a sacred place for many American Indian tribes. The park’s 33,851 acres includes pristine remnant prairie habitat, home to bison, elk, pronghorn, mule deer, coyotes, prairie dogs and the re-introduced black-footed ferret.
Accessibility Written scripts are available for the hearing impaired and sign-language rangers may be available.
Accessible Cave Tours Call ahead 605-745-4600 for information and to make arrangements. There are fees charged for these services.
“The visitor center and the cave are accessible to people who are blind or have low vision. However, cave trails are dimly lighted, often narrow, and may be wet and slippery in certain areas. There are numerous stairs along all of the tour routes. Persons with vision impairments should be cautious when entering the cave. Bringing an extra flashlight could assist visitors with vision impairments see steps and ceiling areas better” Call ahead 605-745-4600 for information and to make arrangements for a Special Cave Tour. There are fees charged for these services.
Trails Phone 605-745-4600 Map
These trails are described as easy but have some elevation gain and loss. Check with the Visitor Center to be sure they are suitable for your needs.
? Wind Cave Canyon 1.8 mile former road through limestone cliffs and forested hillsides. Most of this trail is flat, but you do go over one small hill. Map
? Elk Mountain 1.2 miles around the Elk Mountain Campground. Guide Map
? Rankin Ridge 1 mile nature loop with great views from the top. Judging from the map, there may be a steep stretch. Check first. Map
? Prairie Vista 1 mile interpretive loop from visitor center. Map
South Dakota Parks & Recreation Trail ADA Classification
The second page of this document gives the trail classification criteria and the remaining pages list the trails in the State Parks with their classification, length and surface material. Category A trails appear to be wheelchair accessible. The description for Category B sounds like easy walking, but it is always a good idea to check with park management before going.
Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Location Map Trail Map and Guide Phone 605.232.0873
“Adams features close to 10 miles of trails that wind through prairie, forest and along the riverbank. With over 100 species of birds, a variety of native plants and a number of different animals, visitors are immersed in nature.”
The Lake Loop, Homestead Trail, and River Loop are labeled wheelchair accessible on the trail map.
“Guided golf cart tours are available by reservation for visitors with physical limitations, contact the park for details.”
Angostura Recreation Area Trail Map & Guide Walking Map Phone 605.745.6996
“Angostura Reservoir is a water-lover’s haven with breathtaking, scenic views. Offering crystal clear waters, 36 miles of shoreline, and some of the finest sandy beaches in the state, the area boasts many water sports and summer fun activities – camping, boating, fishing, and swimming.”
? Reservoir View Bike Trail, asphalt. The guide says this is 3.2 miles on “moderate hilly terrain”. However, the mobility guide gives it an A rating which means the grades are from 0 to 5%. It describes the trail as 1.9 miles. Call for clarification.
Chief White Crane Recreation Area Phone 605.668.2985 Trail Map
Chief White Crane Trail from the Yankton website: “1 mile, 9’ wide crushed asphalt surface, flat grade. This trail travels throughout the Chief White Crane Recreation Area and connects to the Deer Boulevard Trail and is a short distance from the Lake Yankton Prairie Trail. “
Custer State Park Phone 605-255-4515 Map Trails Guide
Creekside Trail 2 miles “This paved trail follows Grace Coolidge Creek and offers a variety of scenery.”
? Sylvan Lake Shore Trail I mile loop. “This trail makes a complete loop around Sylvan Lake, and is among the easiest trails in Custer State Park. Enormous granite formations line portions of the lake making it one of the most picturesque in the Black Hills. While most of this trail is relatively flat, a portion contains steps and crosses exposed rocky areas. Sections of the trail are not be suitable for strollers.”
Farm Island Recreation Area Phone 605.773.2885 Trail Map and Guide
Nature Exploration Trail 3 miles. Gravel/limestone. Although the website does not show this trail as ADA (it describes it as “Easy, appropriate for all ages”), it is given an A rating in the State Parks’ trail rating system. You might want to call first to be sure.
George S. Mickleson Trail Phone 605.584.3896 On TrailLink Map Map and elevations
“The trail is 109 miles long and contains more than 100 converted railroad bridges and 4 rock tunnels. The trail surface is primarily crushed limestone and gravel. ” “A majority of the trail does not exceed a 4% grade, but parts of the trail are considered strenuous.”
Trolley On The Trail “Trolley rides allow those with physical limitations to experience the beautiful George S. Mickelson Trail. The rides are held throughout the summer and are approximately four hours long. Reservations are required” This service is temporarily down for repairs. They hope to have it available in September, 2016.
City of Brookings Parks & Recreation Phone 605-692-2708
Dakota Nature Park 135 acres phone at Larson Nature Center 605-693-2233
Map and Brochure Facebook
“Dakota Nature Park is a place where nature prevails, and all humans are guests.” Pretty well all the facilities in this park are ADA. Call first for more information or special requests such as your bucket list desire to paddle a kayak. They will accommodate you!
Middle Pond Trail 0.5 mile, East Pond Trail 1.1 mile, and the Overlook Trail
The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy lists wheelchair accessible trails in South Dakota.
Wheelchairtraveling.com is an outstanding resource