Great Bear Recreation Area Hiking Trails near Sioux Falls, SD
Great Bear Recreation Area, also known as Great Bear Ski Valley, is located just minutes from Sioux Falls, South Dakota. During the winter months, you will find it busy with skiers, snowboarders and tubing! But year round, no matter the weather, I love to enjoy the park for hiking. This park is one of the few that does not require an entry fee, lowering that barrier to entry for anyone to adventure here!
Great Bear has approximately 4 miles of hiking trails that offer a variety of terrains and difficulty. There are simple flat out-and-back trails, medium difficulty loop trails with minor hill climbs, and also more difficult trails with steep hill climbs. Keep in mind, that during the winter months or rainy seasons, that the steep hill climbs can be very slippery and difficult to traverse.
Side note: my kids used to LOVE when the hills were slippery. It was there favorite part of the hike. So just prepare yourself if you have kids, they will get muddy and/or wet, and THATS OK! Thats part of the fun and excitement that will keep them wanting to come back. Just remember to bring extra pants, socks, and shoes for afterwards.
The hiking trails have 2 different trail heads: 1 is located on the east end of the parking lot while the other is located directly behind the ski lodge, right next to the bunny hill ski lift. You can access both sides of the trails via a trail that connects them behind the tubing hill - offering you the option to experience even more of this park!
Many of the trails provide different twists and turns - allowing you to tailor your hike to the skill level of your group and/or the amount of time you have to explore! If you are up for hiking some hills, you will be rewarded with incredible views of the city! There is a guide map at the top to help you identify some of the key interests you will see in the skyline! Hike up during the last hour of daylight to experience an amazing sunset over the city!
During the summer months, you can hike up and down the ski hill - but keep in mind, that this is not often mowed and can be quite buggy during those muggy summer days. I will usually wear lightweight hiking pants, or leggings, in the summer if I plan to go that direction.
Great Bear is one of my go-to hiking trails since it is so close to my home. But I also love it because of how active this area is - it can be so fun to sit on the deck of the ski lodge during the winter months and watch the snowboarders and skiers come flying down the hill at the end of your hike! With no entry fee into this recreation area, and ample amounts of parking, there is absolutely nothing that should hold you back from heading here asap! What are you waiting for!?