You'll find the short Trail of the Spirits inside the Sica Hollow State Park in northeast South Dakota. Find the trailhead through the parking lot at a picnic area that rests near a spring. It's a great short hike for lore hounds who will relish the legends of hauntings in these spooky hills.
"Sica" is the Sioux word for "place of evil spirits." The red water flowing from the area's springs and bogs resembles blood, and the Sioux people saw it as a sign that spirits were present. The strange feelings the area inspires have persisted over time. A series of disappearances from the park in the 1970s left people blaming everything from a rogue bear to Bigfoot.
The strange glow of swamp gas and the sounds of escaping air add to the eerie atmosphere. Some people swear they hear the sound of drumming along the trail, and others report ghostly apparitions. The trail's interpretive guide signs link the sights and sounds of the forest with the Native American legends about them. As your pup cocks their head left and right at the moaning sounds the creek makes, you can read different theories about where those sounds come from.
For those with no affinity for the paranormal, there's still plenty here to keep you engaged. The diverse scenery of forest and bog don't have to be mysterious. The interpretive signs will leave you with an in-depth knowledge of the flora and fauna you're seeing. You'll also learn about the area's geologic history, including the rich iron deposits that give the water its red color. It's nice to be able to identify the wide range of tree species that tower overhead and burst into beautiful displays of color in the fall.
There's nothing spooky about the way the sun filters through the trees and sparkles on the surface of the gently gurgling creek. While daily passes are $6, if you live nearby and are planning to explore this pawsome area mulitple times, you may want an annual parking pass for $30. Whether you and your pup come to listen for ghostly sounds or to enjoy a peaceful walk in the shade, you're in for a fun experience at the Trail of the Spirits.