Badlands Take 4: Medicine Loop | Black Hills Travel Blog

Badlands Take 4: Medicine Loop

  • Badlands Take 4: Medicine Loop
    Badlands Take 4: Medicine Loop
By : 
Shawna V

Our family of four set out for another excursion in the Badlands.  This would really be our 4th trip.  We had done the Notch Trail, the Door and Window Trail, Saddle Pass and part of the Castle Trail.   We have walked the Fossil Trail as well, but it was quite short. This time we set out on Castle Trail and ultimately headed for Medicine Loop.  We began our trip at the other end of castle trail near Fossil Trail.  The first bit was dry with hills and wide crevasses, but it soon turned to grasslands with very tall grass.  The cacti were in full bloom and displayed amazing flowers of yellow and peach.

 I was very concerned about encountering a snake, as we had heard that there are a lot of snakes out there and there are numerous signs posted around the trails to take caution for rattlesnakes.  We used extra caution and talked to the kids about what to do if we did encounter one, but our day was in eventful on that department.

Several miles into the trail we reached the trailhead for Medicine Loop.  turned into Medicine Loop and met up with the Saddle Pass trail.  We began the 4 mile hike on the Medicine Loop trail.  It was primarily grasslands as well.  It was beautiful, but I find the rock formations to be a more enjoyable view. The kids had no problem walking the terrain, although their little legs for a bit tired from the longer hike.  We carried my daughter for about 2 miles of the approximately 8 miles we walked that day.

We did encounter a group of six Big horn sheep.  They were on a ridge about 15 feet high and approximately 10 feet from the trail we had to follow to return.  They had been laying down, but as we neared them, the two largest sheep stood up.  They did not take their eyes off of us.  I was very intimidated and uncomfortable being that close to them and I kept as much distance from them as possible.  They were very impressive, but I prefer to view them from a bit farther away. We navigated the grasslands and finally the dry hills again as the sun was setting.  We were very fortunate to discover that we arrived just in time to watch the SuperMoon ascending in a gorgeous orange sky.  It was magnificent and we kicked ourselves for only bringing our pocket camera instead of our pro cameras.


We watched the moon and took some photos. Then headed out, but found more places to capture the moon with the rock formations, so we had to stay and take more photos.

In the excitement, I forgot to put on the bug spray, which resulted in around 12 bites on my legs and arms.  A mistake I will. to make again. This was a great hike.  We enjoyed it and I am certain we will do it again.  The kids loved it, and again, it was a great learning experience for them and more great family memories created together.

If you plan a hike out in the Badlands do not forget your essentials: sunscreen, a hat, lots of water, a trail mix or snack for additional energy should you need it, and good hiking shoes.  If you plan on being there after dark, I highly recommend a mosquito repellent.

About the Author

Shawna is a mother of two and professional photographer in the Black Hills region.  Being originally from out of state, she has been taken by the beauty of the Black Hills and intends to experience as much of it as she can.  With her camera and children she sets off...

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