Recreational Trails

School is out and boats, campers and orange construction cones can be seen along the interstate; that can only mean one thing… Summer has arrived!

With the warmer temperatures returning to the Midwest, more people are migrating outdoors. As they consider their options for fun and family friendly outdoor activities, many may look to local recreational trail systems for such an opportunity.

Recreation trails can be found in many of our cities and towns all over the state. Many of these trails are maintained year round for use by the public. The trails are used by people for walking, running, in-line skating and skateboarding, as well as bicycling. Motorized devices, unless medically necessary, are not generally allowed on the recreational trail systems. Large animals, such as horses are also not generally allowed on the trails, pets can be walked along the trails.  These trail systems offer opportunities for events to be held, such as road races, run/walk events and a viable option for endurance training.

The recreation trail system in Spearfish was started in 1985 in response to the death of two young bicyclists. The Spearfish Pathways Association has been formed and has been active in the creation and advancement of the trail system. The Spearfish trail system runs through the City, north to south, and also through sections of the City campground and out to the mouth of Spearfish Canyon. Spearfish maintains approximately 7.5 miles of recreational pathways constructed of mostly concrete with some asphalt. The Spearfish trails are 8 feet in width.

The trail system planning in Sioux Falls began in 1960; with the main loop being completed in 2007.  The Sioux Falls system consists of a total of 26 paved miles of trails, including the loop which runs along the river greenway and spurs which branch out into the park areas. The trails in Sioux Falls are generally 8 feet in width, although during the renovation process are being increased to 12 feet. The trails are constructed of primarily asphalt with some areas of concrete. There are several bridges along the trail system.  Sioux Falls has trail counters in place and in 2016 received over 1,000,000 hits on their trail counters.

With all of this traffic, maintenance and management of the trails is of utmost importance to protect the users of the trail system. Providing your visitors with maps of the area online and at entry points along the trail system allows them to consider the terrain which they will be traveling. Many of the trails are signed with markers or have kiosks which help direct traffic so that users can easily navigate along the system without fear of getting lost along the way. Establishment and enforcement of trail system rules and regulations, and encouraging the reporting of any hazards or issues immediately to the Parks and Recreation Department assist in keeping the trails a desirable option for those outdoor activities. Having a maintenance schedule in place and confirming and documenting that it is followed will help ensure that those areas stay safe for users.

Both Spearfish and Sioux Falls have staff which monitor the condition of the trail system, and work diligently to maintain the conditions surrounding the paths. The trail systems are renovated systematically to ensure that the travel surfaces continue to provide a smooth surface for bicyclists and pedestrians. Providing access to trash receptacles along the trail system also encourages users to properly discard of trash and refuse as well as any pet debris.

The SDPAA offers its Members loss control services and review of recreational trail management is included in the loss control review. For information about loss control services or how your entity can become a Member of the SDPAA, contact Lynn Bren, Director of Member Services at 605-254-6542.