Monday, June 18, 2018

Touring the Black Hills: Welcome to Mystic

Jan here, with another trip to my favorite place - the Black Hills of South Dakota.

One of our goals this year is to hike on trails we haven't explored yet. Actually, that could be our goal for the next ten years - there are a lot of places within a short drive that we haven't been to yet! 

Ever since spring arrived, we've been packing a picnic lunch, sticking the cooler in the truck, and heading up into the Hills at least once a week.

A few weeks ago, we chose a trail in the northern Black Hills, in the Mystic area.

Lovely, isn't it?
We parked at the parking area along Mystic Road and headed up the trail.

It was a beautiful day in May, and the trail was easy to follow... long as we could see the trail markers. That's our trail - number 40. There are also deer tracks on the signs in case we forgot the number.

Our trail followed the Mickelson Trail for a quarter-mile or so. The Mickelson is a Rails to Trails project. It is 109 miles long and extends through the length of the Black Hills. Bicyclists, hikers, and horseback riders are allowed to use the trail. No motorized vehicles, which makes the hike pleasant.

And yes, just like the railroad, you get to go through tunnels and over trestles!

Before long though, we found our turn-off.

You can tell we've gotten a lot of rain this spring!

And I found a patch of my favorite spring flowers - Shooting Stars!

Do you see them nestled along that bit of rock?

This part of the Hills was the home of gold mines and prospectors 125 years ago...and today Mystic is nearly a ghost town.

This area's rocks are very different from the granite around Mt. Rushmore!

After an hour, we headed back toward our truck, but we'll be back on the hiking trails soon. The mountains call with a siren's song.

Next week, I'll take you to a place that is so different from the Mystic area that you'll think we've gone to another planet!

Until then, where are your favorite places to explore?

Jan Drexler lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota with her husband and growing family. When she isn't writing, she loves hiking in the Hills or satisfying her cross stitch addiction.

You can find Jan on Facebook, Jan Drexler, author, or her website, Jan


  1. You live in an amazing part of the world, Jan. To have that kind of natural beauty in your backyard. Have you ever done a trail on horseback? That would be oodles of fun! (Says the city girl who has never been on horse.) Do you bring the dogs on your rambles?

    1. We DO live in a beautiful place! We never get tired of it. :-)

      I have a friend who has horses and mules, and I went mule riding with her once (I need to go again - her invitation is open!). I've ridden horses before, and I love it, but for trail riding I'll take a mule every time! It's like sitting in a rocking chair!

      But since we don't own mules or horses (a bit spendy for us!), we rely on our own feet. And that's fine.

      And no, the dogs don't go. Something about mud and hair in someone's truck. If I want to take Thatcher, I take him in the van and we go on a well-known trail.

      Wynter's days of hiking are over, I'm afraid. She can barely walk the half-mile around our block. :-/

  2. Jan, the Black Hills really are beautiful. Makes me wish we'd done more exploring while we were there. But between military life, two small daughters and a newborn, that didn't happen very often.

    As for my favorite places to explore, one would be the ranch. I never know what I might see here. The other, of course, is Ouray, Colorado. Terrible the things we have to do in the name of research, isn't it? Oh, and there is one other place I like to explore. Homegoods. Unfortunately, we don't have one of those in our little town, so my adventures are limited. :P

    1. You were busy when you lived here! Most of my young military-family friends don't get up into the Hills very much, either. They make it to Reptile Gardens or Storybook Island on a regular basis, though!

      And I hear you about Ouray. We do sacrifice for our writing, don't we? ;-)

    2. Is Bear Country USA still there? I remember taking the girls there one time. I really tried to avoid Reptile Gardens. Of course, that was before I had boys, one of which is an avid reptile fan. No doubt that would have been at the top of their list.

    3. Yes, Bear Country is still here! People love it, and every year on Mother's Day they bring the cubs out so people can meet them (not hands-on, though!).

      You know, I've never been to any of these places. Waiting for grandchildren, I guess!

  3. Jan, it's always great to get to experience your state! Thanks for sharing the photos of landscapes so very different from Georgia! I look forward to next week.

    We usually escape to the north Georgia mountains. Yes, we really have them. I've had people doubt that we have mountains here. :) Nothing the size of your mountains, though. There are a couple of state parks that we really enjoy that have beautiful waterfalls.

  4. I moved to Lincoln about 6 months ago and have discovered the walking/ biking paths through out this city so many I didn't know a city could have so many. Makes walking or biking nice.