Black Hills National Forest employees prepare for trails to open back up

The Forest Service ensures trails are ready for spring and summer hikers.
Published: Apr. 18, 2023 at 6:17 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - Warm weather and longer days prompt some people to head to the trails. But making sure those trails and paths are safe to travel, can be a daunting job.

There are a few things Black Hills National Forest staff do every year to prepare for increased traffic.

After Winter, a lot of this preparation involves walking and riding down trails that have been covered with snow, in an effort to determine how clear those trails are. Crews are also checking moisture on the paths to see if traffic would cause any damage.

Jeff Burdine the motorized trail superintendent, says when the trails open to the public is highly dependent on weather. He also wanted to ask any motorized trail users to tread lightly while on more wet trails to try and reduce the damage that may occur to them.

“So we are currently in process of doing a trail assessment from the southern hills all the way up to the northern hills for our December 15th to May 15th closure date and we will officially have a report on May 1st if we are going to have to delay that based on the current precipitation load,” said Burdine.

Burdine says that based on what he has seen so far it is likely the closed trails will need to stay closed a bit longer, while they continue to dry out.