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Backpacker Magazine – September 2008

Top 3 CCC Trails

The Civilian Conservation Corps is turning 75—so celebrate right by hiking its classics.

by: Amy C. Balfour

Grand Canyon, AZ (Photo by Elias Butler)
Grand Canyon, AZ (Photo by Elias Butler)
Table Rock State Park, SC (Pat & Chuck Blackley)
Table Rock State Park, SC (Pat & Chuck Blackley)
Wind cave, SD (Tom Bean)
Wind cave, SD (Tom Bean)

Wind Cave NP, SD
Explore underground, Camp in a Prairie

Thanks to the Corps, it's an easy walk into the world's fourth-longest cave (at 127.76 miles). CCC workers built a staircase by schlepping 70-pound tubes filled with wet concrete. After a four-hour trip into the cave, grab your kit for an overnight on a 17-mile loop above it. Start one mile north of the visitor center (CCC-built, naturally) on the Wind Cave Canyon Trail. Scan 40-foot limestone cliffs for great horned owls, then pick up the Highland Creek Trail one mile from the trailhead. Trek north through mixed-grass prairie, passing (with luck) a few of the park's 400 bison. In six miles, turn left onto Sanctuary Trail, then link to the 111-mile Centennial Trail. Camping is unrestricted–just get at least 100 feet off-trail. The next day, cruise four miles south on Centennial to reconnect with Highland Creek Trail and a quick and rolling four-miler back to the trailhead. (605) 745-4600;

Chill out with fresh lemonades and chicken panini at FlatIron Coffee Bar in nearby Hot Springs.

The Way
From Custer, follow US 385 south 20 miles to the park.

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Reader Rating: -


Nov 05, 2008

No, it isn't a "riverside hiking trail". It's stupid and irresponsible to print something that implys there's Plenty of Water Here!!!
No, there is not. It's 9.5 miles from Bright Angel Creek, to Clear Creek. There is not a drop to drink anong the way, unless it's rained recently. BTW, The River is 1000' down and unreachable without 1000' of rope!


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