The Bogus Trail System contains approximately 34 miles of woodland paths in South Dakota's lovely Black Hills. It's boxed in on all sides by major roads or highways (Highway 44 to the south, Norris Peak Road to the east, Nemo Road to the north, and Highway 385 to the west), which provide many trailheads and access points. Just a few miles west of Johnson Siding on Highway 44 is a pull-off with a small flat parking area. This is old USFS Road 749 and also the start of Bogus Trail 6301.
We were greeted at the trailhead by the sounds of chirping birds and a bubbling brook. From the parking area we already had a choice; right along USFS 749.1A or a left up USFS 749 (a.k.a Trail 6301). We took a left and followed the wide path heading upwards. A small spring trickled along the bottom of the valley to our right. We eventually left it behind as we marched steadily up the hill.
After a short walk we met our next fork in the path. We took a left where the trail split, leaving the main trail (6301) and following USFS 749.1B. On trail maps this road is referred to as Trail 6332. This led further up the hill and past a huge pile of prescribed burn remnants. The road followed the curves of the hill but gradually gained elevation for the most part.
After a few minutes there was another fork in the trail. We took a right at the unmarked fork and headed sharply up the hillside. This part of the path was steep and rocky, and was the most strenuous stretch of our journey. We paused on the way up to catch our breath.
The trail came to an end near the top of the hill, just in front of some interesting rock formations. Large chunks of mountain jutted out towards us. The edge of the hillside dropped off into a valley below. The end of the path overlooked the forested hills surrounding us.
The end of the trail was a lovely place to sit and enjoy a water and treat break while taking in the scenery. Power lines running through the area were the only thing spoiling the view, otherwise it was beautiful.
After everyone caught their breath and had their fill of the vistas, we began to make our way back down. The trek down the hill went fairly quickly. In fact, the entire trip didn't take long at all. The walk up had only taken us about 35 minutes (including stops for sniffing). The hike back down only took about 20 minutes, making it a rather fast trip up and back.
This was a good bit of exercise for the small amount of time invested. The last push up the hill was the most strenuous part, but it really wasn't that bad. However, dogs who are older or have mobility issues may find it too difficult.
Even though the entire trek was uphill it didn't feel too challenging overall. The girls seemed to enjoy it. A large bird (perhaps an osprey) had a nest near the trail and took flight right in front of us, much to their delight. There were also plenty of things to stop and sniff along the way.
We enjoyed the nice wide paths (which are really just old forest service roads or new ATV trails). We didn't encounter anyone else out on the trails that day, but during the summer this can be a very popular system.
It's also worth noting that the Bogus Trail System is built like a maze, and can be quite confusing. Not all the turns and trails are marked, and not all of them are mapped. Some dead end while others lead deep into the forest. Like with all other extensive trail systems it's a good idea to do some research before heading out, as it wouldn't be hard to get turned around (or completely lost) out there.
This trail was a nice little hike; great for getting out into the woods when you don't have a lot of time. The uphill walk is a good workout and doesn't take long at all. It's also completely possible to spend the entire day (or more) exploring the rest of the Bogus System and tailor the hike to any length or difficulty that suits your needs.