Veteran's Point -Pactola Reservoir
Veteran's Point Trail & Recreation Area is a lovely spot to visit. Situated along the northeast shore of Pactola Reservoir (also known as Pactola Lake) in the Black Hills of South Dakota, this place is definitely worth a stop.
The turnoff for the Veteran's Point parking area is well marked; a sign indicates the way along Highway 385. This day use area is located just north of the Pactola Visitor's Center and just south of the North Marina. There are informational signs about the area when you arrive.
Because this wonderful place is dedicated to disabled US Veterans, it was important that it be handicapped accessible so that everyone could enjoy the beauty of this recreation spot. Therefore, the main path is paved from beginning to end. There are also handrails for the entire length, as well as benches along the way to rest or take in the sights. Dogs are welcome but (as always) be sure to clean up after them.
Picnic tables and fishing spots are located all along the length of the trail. There are beautiful views of the lake as the path switchbacks gradually down the hill from the parking lot to the reservoir. The water was mostly blue, but the little coves along the way were a mesmerizing shade of turquoise. The dogs really enjoyed looking down over the water as we went.
As we made our way along the path we passed lookout spots and wooden piers for fishing, bird watching, or just enjoying the scenery of a gorgeous lake surrounded by lovely forested hills.
We walked across a long bridge that was filled with people fishing over the sides. We continued along the paved path until its end, where there were benches and a nice view overlooking the water. The walk was fairly short (just over half a mile one way), but the girls really seemed to enjoy it.
After we had all enjoyed the scenery (and a break for water and treats), Maggie felt like getting in the water along a pebbly stretch of shore nearby. While she pranced in the chilly lake, Ursa merely cooled off her paws then decided that was enough.
We headed back up the paved trail, but along the way we explored an unpaved offshoot trail. This path led to the fascinating Veteran's Point Tree. Nicknamed simply "Vet", this is the oldest and tallest tree in the area. It was determined to have sprouted in 1765; that predates the Revolutionary War! It towered proudly over the trail, the other trees, and everything else around it.
The dirt trail that leads to Vet continues on past the tree and back up to the parking lot. We weren't quite ready to leave the lake yet, so we headed back to the paved path.
After everyone was done joyfully exploring the beautiful surroundings and playing in the cool water, it was time to make our way back up the trail. The paved path is wheelchair friendly but along the way are several wooden staircases that provide shortcuts up the hill. The dogs decided they wanted to try climbing one of these on the way back to the car.
Veteran's Point Trail is a nice, easy walk (only about a mile round trip) that provides access to fishing and picnicking along gorgeous Pactola Lake. It is intended to be enjoyed by everyone, and is perfect for people and dogs of all abilities. It's a popular spot, but it felt like there was plenty of room for everybody (dogs included). This charming recreation area is a great way to spend an hour (or the better part of a day).