This was our first trip to South Dakota, so obviously, it was also our first trip to Sioux Falls. We’d read about the Sioux Falls Loop and decided to begin at the southernmost point and ride counterclockwise around the city. We parked and unloaded our bikes at Yankton Trail Park and headed east through beautiful parkland for a few miles before turning north at Tuthill Park. Here the trail follows the not-very Big Sioux River, winding along its manicured and tree-lined banks, beside pretty picnic areas and soccer fields that no doubt come alive on the weekends. But it was lovely and quiet during the weekday afternoon when we visited and we passed few other bikers on the trail.
Comparing the loop to a clock face, we started at 6 o’clock, then at roughly 3 o’clock, we came upon the falls for which the city is named. The falls are more like a scenic series of rocky cascades bordered by grassy parklands and the brick ruins of a former mill (although it looked like a fort). It was very dramatic and beautiful.
Immediately north of Falls Park, outside of the loop, is the Smithfield Foods, Inc., a pork processing plant that is the size of several large suburban malls put together. Even from a distance of half a mile, the smell was offensive and we tried to ride past as quickly as possible.
We headed uphill (the only hill on the loop) through a small set of switchbacks until the trail flattened again atop a levy that divided the river from lumberyards and light industrial areas on the outside of the loop.
At this point, the Big Sioux River, which runs east-west AND in a circle around the city, looks pretty much like a wide, stagnant, tree-less canal. But it’s less attractive than that. The trail circumvents the Sioux Falls Regional Airport from 2 o’clock to 10 o’clock, the whole north end and about a third of the entire loop. At the northernmost point, we were warned of a detour that took us onto a gravel road for about three miles. We watched another couple who didn’t take the detour continue on the paved trail across the river for two miles, then disappear. A short time later they merged with us, so we wish we’d followed them.
It was hot and the pavement had bumpy, cracked seams that crossed the trail about every 10 yards, making for a jarring ride. We passed two golf courses inside the loop, but continued to ride on the path alongside the stagnant canal, wondering what had become of the trees and manicured parks on the East side.
When we finally arrived at the small bridge that crossed over to the parking lot where we’d started, we realized that we’d unknowingly started at the exact spot where the trail became bucolic to the east and barren to the west. In hindsight, had we started in the other direction and headed up the west side of the loop, we would have sped downhill past Smithfield and had the lovely, shaded park area to pedal through for the second half of our ride.
There were several breweries to consider but we landed upon Lupulin Brewing Company in a strip shopping center that turned out to have one of the best IPAs Jim tasted on our 17-day, 14-brewery journey. He loved the Fashion Mullet (hilarious name and label) describing it as having a bracing initial taste, a good finish, a floral quality and being both hop-forward and refreshing. Kellie really enjoyed the Apricot Blonde which had the perfect balance of apricot and maltiness. While the brewery only featured six year-round brews, there appeared to be several interesting seasonal and limited series beers that are likely to be delicious, too.
Let us know if you have tips about rides and breweries near Sioux Falls in the Comments below.