The Meridian Bridge in Yankton is a great place to get close view of history and take a nice walk. The bridge was opened to foot and bicycle traffic in 2011. Vehicle traffic now crosses the river on the Discovery Bridge. From the upper deck, you really get nice view of the area. One can’t help but notice all the “locks of Love” on the bridge too.
The Meridian Bridge was completed in the summer of 1924. Prior to that, a ferry service was used for river crossings. It is a unique double decker bridge. The top was intended for automobiles and the bottom for rail traffic. It also had a lift in the middle to allow river traffic to pass. It was a toll bridge until 1953. The bottom portion of the bridge was eventually converted for use by automobiles and each level carried one way traffic. If you are bridge buff, be sure to check out the “double barrel” bridge in Chamberlain.
This is a nice areas to spend some time and walk around, perfect for families. Other than walking across the bridge to the Nebraska side, there is more to explore at the Meridian Bridge Plaza area. There are beaches, a splash pad, fountains, sculptures and more.
If you are up for more walking. Lewis and Clark Recreation areas offers the Gavins Point Nature Trail and Chalk Bluff Trails.
One of the first things I noticed when I started walking on the Meridian Bridge in Yankton, is all the locks. According to this newspaper article, it is a European tradition that really began to flourish when the bridge opened to pedestrian traffic in 2011.
Traditions holds you put the initials of your love on the lock. Lock it on the bridge and toss the key in the river. The Parks Department doesn’t have a problem with the locks, but encourages people not to throw the key in the water, but a trash can instead.
If you have some time in Yankton, I’d encourage you to take the time to walk across the Meridian Bridge.
Bishop Marty Chapel is a beautiful gothic structure built in 1950. It was built in memory of the first bishop of the Dakotas. And, as a memorial to the Benedictine Sisters.
The number of stained glass windows are simply awe inspiring. It truly is an amazing building for quiet contemplation. Regular services occur on a daily basis in the Peace Chapel (in the basement) and in the upper chapel – view the schedule here.
The Chapel is part of the Sacred Heart Monastery. Visit their website to learn more and they have a gift shop if you’d like to support them.
Yankton South Dakota is full of interesting history, I’d add this to your must see list if you are a history buff.
Lookout Mountain Hiking Trail in Spearfish South Dakota is a great opportunity to enjoy some quality hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking without leaving town. It is over 750 acres of land for pure outdoor enjoyment. Plus, an elevation change of over 800 feet offers a challenge and great views of the area. The trails wind through open prairie, stands of burr oak and ponderosa pine. Wildlife is abundant and that includes rattlesnakes, so be a little mindful when you are hiking in the area.
How to get to Lookout Mountain Park
The best place to enter the park is from the Nevada St entrance(see the map below). It is located on the west side of the park. It has a parking lot and then you traverse a tunnel that goes under Interstate 90. Improvements have been made recently. There are several well marked trails.
Cattle are allowed to graze in the park, so watch your step .
Ridge Trail – Tech Essence Loop – 3.5 miles
Blue Steak Loop – 2.3 miles
Les Fun – Duct Tape Loop – 1.2 miles
Hopa Maste – Round the Crown Loop – 1.8 miles
Blue Steak Hiking Trail – 1.2 miles
Minnesota Ridge Hiking Trail – 1 mile
Lookout Mountain Hiking Trail Map
There is a great map of the trail at the Nevada St parking area. I just took a picture with my phone before I started hiking and referred to it during my hike. It is a great area to get in a quick hike or spend a good portion of the day exploring.
There is no water along the trail, be sure to bring your own. Check the weather before you leave, weather can change quickly in Spearfish. Again, watch for snakes and other wildlife.
There is loads of hiking in the area. Spearfish Canyon is just a short drive from Lookout Mountain Park.
Gavins Point Nature Trail is a great way to take in some of the natural beauty of Lewis & Clark Recreation Area. The trail is just over 1 mile long and will take you through woods and meadows and it also provides great vistas of the lake.
This is located in a state park. To access the area you’ll need to purchase a day pass or have a state park sticker in your vehicle. It is about seven miles from Yankton. It is on the west end of Lewis & Clark Recreation area.
The trail is rated as moderate. Expect steep areas on the trail. The trail is covered with mulch and one has to be careful on the hilly portions, as your footing can be loose. There are some benches located on the trail and there is a gazebo at the midway point. This can be a great trail for families as long as you take your time on the steep sections. There is no water available on the trail, so be sure to bring your own.
The SD Game, Fish and Parks has a free map here. If you are wanting a longer hike, Chalk Bluff Trail is just north of here.
There is a really great hiking trail about 7 miles west of Yankton. The Chalk Bluffs Trail is open to hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. You’ll find it located in the Lewis & Clark Recreation Area. It is a South Dakota State Park, so you’ll have to pay a day fee or have a state park sticker.
Hiking this trail can be adjusted depending on how far you’d like to hike and your ability level. Loop A is 1.5 miles, Loop B is 3 miles and Loop C is 4.1 miles. I Hiked loop C on an early September day. It was about 70 degrees with a light breeze. I happened to be working in Yankton and knew it was just too nice to head back home at 5 o’clock. I’m glad I took the time to hike this trail.
The trail is rated very difficult. It is very hilly and the trail is loose in some spots. I could see the trail being “greasy” on rainy days. After I completed my hike, my iPhone health app indicated I’d climbed 82 flights of stairs (and my legs were a bit sore the next day). The day I was there, flies were terrible. When ever I stopped there just tons of flies landing on me. I spoke with a local resident on the trail and she said it doesn’t happen too often, so don’t be dissuaded by the flies – I’d still hike it again with or without flies.
There is a lot of up and down on the trail. You are afforded many great views of Lewis and Clark Lake, plus the trail takes you down into little gullies located along side the lake. I just really enjoyed the trail, but it is a workout. There is a vault toilet at the trailhead. No water or services are available along the trail. Bring plenty of water and snacks.
I’m going to try and make it back when the leaves have turned this fall, I bet it is a great autumn hike. Also, I wonder if the parking lot is kept open in the winter? I think it would be fun to snowshoe there.
If you are wanting a hike that is less strenuous, the Gavins Point Nature Trail is located near by. The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks has a good map of the trail here. And, visit the official website of the park to learn about camping and other activities located here.
If we only have time for one hike when visiting Spearfish Canyon with friends and family, this is it. Any time of year this waterfall created where Little Spearfish Creek dumps into Spearfish Creek is fun to visit. Nothing like feeling the spray from the waterfall and watching the stream rush by. I love all of Spearfish Canyon, but this is high on the list of must see areas.
The little gem of a nature trail is found behind the Latchstring Inn, which is just across the road from the Spearfish Canyon Lodge. This is the area known as Savoy. It is about 13 miles from Spearfish on the scenic byway. The trail is a 3/4 mile loop that descends a little over 100 feet.
Along the trail you will cross Spearfish Creek twice and have a chance to see some on the local flora. Many people should be about to manage the trail, however there are stairs and portions of the trail are uneven and rocky.
If you have more time while in the area, hike to the canyon rim on the 76 trail. Or, enjoy the 1-mile hike to Roughlock Falls. One could easily spend a whole day exploring the canyon. There are more waterfalls to see and some really great hiking.
You can drive to Roughlock Falls, but if you have time, the hike certainly adds to the experience. The one mile hike along Little Spearfish Creek is a great way to soak in the beauty of Spearfish Canyon.
There is very little elevation change from the beginning of the trail (just behind Spearfish Canyon Lodge) all the way to the base of Roughlock Falls. It gives you a chance to view wildlife and plants found in the canyon.
Look for the signs past the parking lot of Spearfish Canyon Lodge. There is a parking area and a vault toilet. There is no fresh water available, so be sure to bring plenty of your own. Snacks and a jacket are a good idea too. You will see the small intake pond (pictured above) near the start of the trail. Roughlock Trail is great way for people of all ages to enjoy Spearfish Canyon and see one of the waterfalls in the area. When you reach the falls, you will find more vault toilets and several picnic areas. In the winter the road is closed to vehicles as it becomes part of the snowmobile trail, but you could still snowshoe to the falls.
Roughlock Falls is managed by the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks. Admission is free. Visit their website for more details.
Below is is just one of the many maps and signs found along the trail.
The north end of the Mickelson Trail is found in Deadwood. The trailhead is right in town. There is a large parking lot and access to fresh water. Use of the trail in city limits is free. However, to use the trail out of town purchase a pass at the trailhead or online.
You can depart from here, but I love this to be the end of my ride. If you can find someone to give you a ride to the Dumont Trailhead and then ride back to Deadwood. It is downhill most the way. And, then you’ll have some energy left to enjoy Deadwood’s nightlife.
The whole trail is really neat. It follows an old rail road bed all the way from Deadwood to Edgemont. 109-miles right through some of the most beautiful areas of the Black Hills. If you plan on exploring much of the trail you may find The Mickelson Trail Guide Book useful.
The Deadwood Trailhead of the Mickelson Trail is just north of the hospital and very near the Taco John’s (incase you get hungry). It is a short walk from the downtown area and it really is a nice ride or walk. And, don’t forget there is loads of great hiking in the Deadwood area.
I’ve been meaning to checkout the bike trails at Farm Island in Pierre for awhile now. As luck would have it, I had some meetings for work in Pierre – so I brought my bicycle along.
I got out of my meeting about 3pm and it happened to be nearly 100 degrees. I decided some exercise still sounded good after sitting through meetings most of the day. I bought plenty of water and head east out of Pierre on SD Highway 34.
Farm Island Recreation Area is a state park and only about 2.5 miles from Pierre. It looks like the city bike path goes all the way out to the State Park. I have a state park window sticker, but if you don’t you’ll have to pay a day use fee to enter the park.
There are several miles of trails on the island. Most of the trails are gravel roads and easy riding. Some of the other trails are not gravel, they are more sandy. The sandy trails are more work to petal, but also more fun to ride. There are trees along the trails, even though it was a really hot day, I was shaded during most of my ride. Take a look at the map provided by SD game fish and parks. There are some ruins of an old boy scout camp and golf course on the island.
In addition to the trails, the park has camping and fishing. It is a popular camping area and Hipple lake is also a popular recreation destination. The park also offers Canoe and Kayak rentals. I know I would like to visit again with my standup paddle board.
Be sure to visit the Farm Island Recreation Area website for all the details. I could see myself visiting here again.