Legend has it that Jesse James leaped across the Devil’s Gulch on horseback to escape after robbing a bank in Minnesota. However, we enjoy Devil’s Gulch Park in Garretson, SD more for the hike than the folklore. The hike starts with a metal bridge across the canyon. The trail starts with a few steps then a scramble down some rocks. The path leads you to the water’s edge at the bottom of the canyon.
The bridge tends to look less sturdy from below, but it’s been there for as long as I can remember.
This is the view looking the other way…gorgeous!
You are able to take a rather weedy path downstream a little further. Unfortunately, you’ll have to backtrack out of the weeds and up the rocks to continue on with the trail.
As you follow the trail, you can hear the sound of rushing water hidden somewhere in the rocks and trees. Eventually, you’ll come across another bridge where you’ll find the Devil’s Falls. The waterfall is usually the best in the spring, but these photos are from July and it’s still running pretty strong. Just past the bridge, is a path down to the rocks where the falls seem to appear out of nowhere.
There’s also a smaller trail that heads north along the creek. If it’s dried out enough and you’re wearing pants and decent shoes, it’s a fun path to explore. It’s a little (sometimes a LOT) overgrown, but you usually don’t find anyone else out on that path.
Overall, the trail at Devil’s Gulch Park is one of our favorite local hikes. The trail is challenging and the sights are gorgeous anytime we go. If you’re traveling across South Dakota and need to stretch your legs, this is a great stop, not too far north of I-90 exit 410. Admission is free.
For another hike in the area, check out Great Bear Nature Trail.