Jul 02

Notch Trail: Badlands National Park

The climb upFor those with a little bit of an adventurous spirit, the Notch Trail in Badlands National Park, South Dakota just might be the ticket for you.  The Notch Trail is a 1.5 mile hike through a canyon to a wooden ladder that leads to the top and a gorgeous view of the White River Valley.Start of the Notch TrailThe Notch Trail starts at end of the parking lot for the Window, Door, and Notch Trail area. All three trails are short hikes and can be accomplished by just about anybody.  The Door Trail is on a boardwalk while the Window Trail is less than a quarter of a mile making the Notch Trail the most strenuous of the three.  If your time allows I recommend doing all three before you move on to see the rest of Badlands National park.Notch TrailLeaving the park lot, the dirt trail heads into a canyon area that will become narrower as you go.  The Notch Trail is easy to follow as metal pools will act as markers along your way.  Like any hike that you undertake make sure you follow all precautions, let people know where you are going, take water no matter how short the hike is, and be weather aware.  Trails in the Badlands National Park can be slick if it has rained recently and many of the trails are on unstable rock with steep drop-offs.The Notch TrailOnce into the canyon the trail will lead to a wooden ladder which starts off level enough that I could walk up it until the dozen or so steps where it turns into a more of a traditional ladder.  Once at the top the trail follows the edge of the canyon, make sure you are very careful from this point on.  Though the trail felt wide and very safe it would not take much to take a bad step or carelessness to take a fun outing and have it end badly.   Case in point, heading back, I ran into a couple that told me that just a few days earlier somebody had slipped and fallen hurting themselves.End of TrailThe Notch Trail will continue along the edge until you come to a sign that will tell you that you have reached the end of the road.  The overlook is just on the other side of the ‘trail ends’ sign which what you climbed all this way to see.  The actual notch is a break in the dessert wall where you can gaze out over the badlands and prairie to see the treasures it holds.  To get back to the parking lot just retrace your steps.  For those that are afraid of heights, like me, the wooden ladder might prove a bit tricky especially going back down.  Just take your time and go slow and you should be just fine.   If you keep the precautions in mind and have a safe hike it is really a worthwhile journey.  Enjoy!

To see other reviews of hikes we have done on Plain Adventure click hereNotch trail overlookNotch Trail
1.5 miles
Moderate Level Hike
About an Hour
For more information on Badlands National Park go to their website at http://www.nps.gov/badl/index.htm

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