Updated: Nov 12, 2019
This 300 acre park in Rapid City, South Dakota, has some perfect trails for the first sunny day after a snowfall. On the eastern side of Hanson-Larsen Memorial Park most of the paths are manageable and easily accessible.
We started at Trailhead 079, which joins in at the middle of the Founders Valley Trail. We turned northwest at the start of the Wagoneer Trail. It winds back and forth up the valley for a short distance. When it ends at the Far East Trail we took a right (heading north). This follows the hillsides in and out through sun and shadow.
We stayed on the Far East Trail until we reached the beginning of Founders Valley West. Excellent views of the snowy hills and western Rapid City popped up along the way. We followed this trail in its entirety back to Founders Valley. This made for a great winter-time loop hike; easy to follow trails gradually climbing up and down at a gentle pace.
The snow-packed trails showed signs of other hikers and their dogs but on this occasion we had the paths to ourselves. The snow made for a beautiful walk, transforming the normally drab landscape into gorgeous winter scenery. Deer & bunny tracks kept the girls moving excitedly along for most of the trip.
This was not a strenuous hike. It was fun following the hillsides back and forth. The dogs had a great time and were not bothered in the least by the snow. They enjoyed the experience of hiking with cool paws and warm sun on their backs.
Because of the fairly open terrain we didn't have a problem with snow falling out of the trees on us (a common winter hiking hazard). It's also nice that this trail system is very well marked with signs along the way.
This is a great winter hiking spot, however at this point I must give my obligatory warning about Hanson-Larsen Memorial Park: we do not visit here during the warmer months, due to 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 don't visit except in winter months, when the conditions allow.
This park provides a great way to break the cabin fever. After a snowfall has kept everyone inside, this place is a good option for not-so-ideal conditions. Don't take a chance heading out into the hills on icy roads; hike in the city instead. The labyrinth of paths in this park makes for a lot of fun on a sunny winter day.