Nestled deep within the rolling hills of eastern South Dakota lies a hidden gem for horse enthusiasts – Newton Hills State Park. This park, located near Canton, offers an unforgettable experience for riders of all skill levels with its stunning scenery, well-maintained trails, and abundant wildlife. Whether you're an experienced equestrian or a novice rider looking to explore the great outdoors on horseback, Newton Hills State Park has something for everyone. In this article, we will explore the best horse trails in the park, highlighting the unique features and experiences they offer.
1. Iron Horse Trail:
As the park's longest horse trail, the Iron Horse Trail stretches four miles and takes riders on a captivating journey through diverse landscapes. This trail meanders along the scenic banks of the Big Sioux River, providing picturesque views of lush greenery and tranquil waters. The trail also offers various terrain, including open fields and shaded woodlands, making it a perfect choice for riders seeking both shade and sunlight. With its easy-to-moderate difficulty level, the Iron Horse Trail is ideal for beginners looking to build their confidence while enjoying the beauty of nature.
2. Sunset Trail:
True to its name, the Sunset Trail offers riders breathtaking sunset views over the rolling prairies of Newton Hills State Park. This scenic ride covers three miles and presents an opportunity to witness the park's stunning flora and fauna up close. With its gentle slopes and wide paths, the Sunset Trail is suitable for riders of all skill levels. Keep an eye out for birdwatching enthusiasts as this trail is often frequented by a variety of bird species, including bluebirds, hawks, and even the occasional bald eagle. This trail guarantees a serene and memorable horseback adventure.
3. Raccoon Run Trail:
If you seek a more challenging horseback riding experience, the Raccoon Run Trail is a great choice. This two-mile loop winds its way through a dense forest of oak and ash trees, immersing riders in a shaded and peaceful setting. The trail's narrow paths and occasional steep inclines provide an exhilarating experience for experienced riders. While navigating this trail, you might encounter various wildlife, such as deer, turkeys, and raccoons. This trail's natural beauty and technical aspects make it a favorite among experienced riders looking for a thrilling and physically engaging ride.
4. Quarries Loop Trail:
For those who appreciate the unique history of the area, the Quarries Loop Trail is a must-visit. This two-and-a-half-mile trail takes riders around the remnants of old limestone quarries, showcasing the rich industrial heritage of the region. As you ride, you'll witness breathtaking views of the tranquil quarry ponds and learn about the park's fascinating past. The trail's moderate difficulty level and well-maintained paths make it accessible to riders of varying skill levels. Don't forget to carry your camera along as this trail offers incredible photo opportunities amidst the remnants of the quarry.
Visiting Newton Hills State Park for a horseback riding adventure provides an opportunity to immerse yourself in the serene beauty of nature while enjoying the company of your equine companion. With miles of well-marked and well-maintained trails to explore, riders of all levels will find joy in navigating the park's diverse landscapes. Whether riding alongside the Big Sioux River, witnessing stunning sunsets, venturing through dense forests, or exploring the remnants of old quarries, every trail at Newton Hills State Park offers a unique experience that will leave riders with unforgettable memories. So saddle up, grab your horse, and embark on an adventure that combines the love for horses with the enchanting beauty of South Dakota's countryside.