One of the many things we enjoy about the Buzzard's Roost Trail System is the diversity of hiking options it provides. All the trails are of varying degrees of difficulty and length, and they each share their own perspective on the scenery. It's easy to take a short hike or spend an entire day exploring the area. We decided to traverse the two westernmost trails in the system -Pretty Vulture and Sun Up.
Buzzard's Roost has a decent sized parking lot (located just west of Rapid City, South Dakota, on Highway 44). A sign with a map of the trail system welcomes you. We highly suggest looking it over if you're unfamiliar with the area.
Shortly after entering through the metal pedestrian gate, the marked start of the Pretty Vulture, Sun Up, and Sun Down trails are almost immediately to the right.
After a short walk there is a fork in the trail -left leads towards the Sun Down Trail, which we did not take on this occasion. We stuck to the right towards Pretty Vulture, which we followed up the mountain. It was rocky in some places, and uphill the entire way. Some parts were more steep than others, but none of it was terribly strenuous.
The trail wound back and forth up the hill at a steady but manageable pace. Living up to its name, the trek up Pretty Vulture was beautiful. Views of distant hills kept popping up along the way as we hiked amid a lovely section of forest.
The Pretty Vulture Trail is only about a mile long. It ends at an intersection with both the Sun Up Trail and the Upper Connector Trail. We took a right onto the Upper Connector, which would lead us to the Buzzard's Roost Lookout at the end of the trail. This last stretch was fairly short -only a few hundred yards.
The Buzzard's Roost lookout spot is a great place to take a lengthy water and treat break while enjoying the scenery. There are fantastic views of the surrounding hills and distant peaks. It even overlooks the tiny town of Hisega.
The dogs really enjoyed the scenery, as they usually do. After everyone had taken in the views, caught their breath, and had some water (and treats), it was time to head back down. The girls were excited to retreat towards all those chipmunks darting around the forest.
We soon came upon the trail intersection from earlier. Pretty Vulture headed off to our left, but we took the Sun Up Trail to our right. Mountain Bikers rate this trail as "difficult" due to its rocky nature, but we found it to be a fun trail to hike. It followed the other side of the hill we had ascended on Pretty Vulture, and along the tops of the cliffs for a while (without getting too close to the edge). The trail wasn't too steep, but we had to watch our step over all the rocks protruding from the path.
Sun Up is less than a mile long, so it didn't take much time to get back down the hill. In fact, we did the entire hike up and back (breaks included) in less than 2 hours.
We found Sun Up to be a fun jaunt down the hill. It reconnects with Pretty Vulture near its end, close to the original trailhead.
The girls really enjoyed these woodland trails. They were enthusiastic the entire way, stopping only on occasion to investigate an interesting scent. They seemed to love this trek through the forest, up to an overlook where they could really survey their domain.
This hike is not too demanding, but still a good bit of exercise. The trails are easy to navigate, especially if you familiarize yourself with the area beforehand.
Buzzard's Roost is a great place to go hiking. The views from the top are fantastic. There are multiple trails to choose from, and plenty of fun to be had. The girls always seem to have a wonderful time here!