It's early January, the sun is out, and the dogs are brimming with energy. On a rare day such as this, a normal walk in the park just won't do. This was the perfect time to visit Hanson-Larsen Memorial Park and its 20+ miles of trails, conveniently located within Rapid City, South Dakota.
We pulled into the Founders Park parking lot, just off Omaha Street. The park was bustling with activity. We made our way across the bridge over Rapid Creek and into Hanson-Larsen Memorial Park.
The 300 acre wilderness area begins on the far side of Rapid Creek and extends north. A network of trails and paths unfolds throughout the park.
After crossing the bridge, we took a left and began up the main path. The terrain of the wide trail (known as Cowboy Hill Road) varied from slushy snow to dry dirt. The dogs led enthusiastically up the hill towards rust-colored sandstone boulders. Soon, a marked path appeared off to our right; it was the beginning of The Blizzard Trail.
The Blizzard zigzagged up the forested hillside. We hiked along, stopping to sniff everything along the way.
We trekked through pine trees and large protruding rocks as the red dirt path continued to wind back and forth up the hill. Views of Rapid City popped up below us as we hiked. It was a fun trail, and the girls and I enjoyed following it through the woods overlooking the city.
The occasional patch of snow popped up along the way. M Hill was visible just across the ravine from us. At times, the dogs stopped to check out the views. The uphill trail wasn't too strenuous, but we took our time anyways.
At the top of the hill, we reached the end of The Blizzard when it ran into other trails. We had several choices of which path to take next. We took a right and then another immediate right, putting us on the Lower Rim -Red Trail.
This interesting stretch of trail led us through rocky terrain and over the stone formation that made up the top of the hill. We walked among the large boulders, catching sight of the city sprawling out below us.
We sat atop the rocks and took a water and treat break. We could take in the scenery while enjoying a rest. The girls looked out over the city; it was a beautiful day for enjoying snow-dusted vistas.
We hung out on the rocks overlooking the city for a little while, appreciating the views. After a short time, we continued on our trek. Lower Rim -Red was a short stretch of trail that ran directly into (and ended at) the Lower Rim -Black Trail. We were now making our way back down the other side of the hill.
We caught different views of Rapid City as we hiked farther down the hill. The dogs made frequent stops along the way to sniff things or check out the scenery. We reached the end of the Lower Rim Trail when it intersected with the Far East Trail.
We took a right at the intersection with the Far East. It was a main path that would take us the rest of the way down the hill. Soon we had reached the bottom and were at the Founders Park Drive Trailhead. From there it was only a short stroll along the sidewalk back to where we had started from.
We easily followed the paved walkway back to the bridge over Rapid Creek and returned to the car. This had been a fun little hike up and over the hill, and a great walk for a sunny winter afternoon.
This park and its various trails are great for wintertime exercise. We do not go there during the warmer months due to the presence of rattlesnakes. There are actual warning signs upon every main entry into the park, and I can personally attest to having seen one (it slithered across my path in the summer of 2017). We only hike in Hanson-Larsen Memorial Park during cooler months, when the conditions allow.
We ran into several other hikers and their dogs during our adventure. It was easy to understand why -this is a fantastic place to take a hike without actually leaving the city. Our little trek took just over an hour, but we stopped for smells and scenery along the way (we also took a short break at the top).
One of the best things about Hanson-Larsen Memorial Park is the ability to do as much or as little exploring as time allows. It's a great place to shake up the winter routine and get in some much needed exercise while weather permits.