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The Leonard Swanson Memorial Pathway, named for Rapid City's late, longtime public works director, is a sprawling eight mile system of paved bikeways that follows the path of Rapid Creek across the heart of the city. Affectionately known as the Swanny Pathway, the trail provides a safe means of getting around the city by foot or bike, and connects to a wide variety of parks and recreation facilities along its route. A number of additional sidepaths connect with the trail at various points, providing even more opportunity for off-road travel.
The path begins in the west near the intersection of Cleghorn Canyon Road and Jackson Blvd on the outskirts of the city, and heads east along the creek through sparsely wooded land. Entering Canyon Lake Park, trail users can choose to head south to travel next to the beautiful lake, or continue straight through the park. The pathway runs alongside Jackson Blvd, then passes under the road to follow the winding creek. You'll pass by a number of baseball diamonds as the trail snakes its way north and east, crossing over the creek and offering views to the north of the hilly, natural landscape of Chuck Lien Family Park. Continuing east, the trail runs through several more parks just a few short blocks away from Rapid City's downtown area, before the creek and the trail turn towards the south. Heading through even more charming creekside parks, you'll pass the local fairgrounds on one side and the campus of the South Dakota School of Mines on the other. The trail continues on past a series of athletic fields and through an underpass, before coming to an end at St. Charles Street.
With its winding route and many sidepaths, the Swanny Pathway can be a bit difficult to navigate, but it provides a wonderful means of traversing the city and exploring the city's natural and man-made environments. Even if you deviate from the main path, with all the parks along the way, you're almost sure to wind up somewhere great.
Parking is available at most of the city parks along the pathway's route; be sure to follow any posted signs and warnings.
To reach the trail from out of town, take I-90 towards Rapid City. Exit onto I-190 into Rapid City, and turn right onto W Main Street. Turn left onto Jackson Blvd (State Route 44) and proceed for about two miles. Turn left onto Park Dr, followed by a right into Canyon Lake Park. Parking is available here and the trail runs through the park.
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