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Top 3 CCC Trails

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

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; nps.gov/wica

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

The Way

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

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