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Hiking Deerfield Lake Loop Trail 40

deerfield dam

I always enjoy hanging out at Deerfield lake. It is just a nice place to picnic, camp, hike, paddleboard, canoe, boat and more. The area is a bit off the beaten path, so it never seems too crowded. The lake loop trail is just over 11 miles and will occupy a decent portion of a day.

I started the Lake Loop Trail at the Custer Trails Trailhead. It is on the north side of Deerfield Lake. I began the loop heading east toward the dam (pictured above).  It is basically wide open prairie from Custer Trails to the dam. The trail will remain in trees for several miles after this point.

I love to take my children on portions of the trail. You could spend some time and one of the picnic areas and hike small bits of the trail, or if you are feeling ambitious, do the whole loop. My kids are not ready for that yet.

The loop trail connects with the Deerfield Trail near the dam. The Deerfield Trail is 23 miles and ends at the Deer Creek Trailhead of the Centennial Trail north of Pactola. Along the way, the trail is accessible via the Kinney Canyon Trailhead on FSR 188. The Daughtery Trailhead is found at the intersection with the Mickelson Trail. And, the Silver City is found west of Pactola Lake.

The trails are open to hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking and cross country skiing. It is considered a moderately difficult trail. With an average elevation of 6000 feet it can be cooler than the rest of the Black Hills and get snow when you are not expecting it. Remember, weather changes quickly in the Black Hills, be prepared. Fresh water is not provided along the trail, pack accordingly.

Elevation change over the entire trail is about 1700 feet. It took me about 4 hours to complete the loop. The trails does follow the road for a short time near the Gold Run Trailhead. I spend a warm September afternoon completing this hike and then headed into Hill City to enjoy a local fermented beverage. Days don’t get much better than that!

Trail 40 Deerfield Lake Loop


Custer Trails – on the North side. Turn South off FH 17 on to FSR 417 for 1.5 miles.

North Shore – on the Northwest side. Turn off of FH 17 on to FSR 164 for about 1 and a half miles.

Gold Run – On the south side. Found right off highway 17 about 15 miles out of Hill City.



The Forest Service has more about the trail here and a nice printable map here.

Black Hills Trails has a nice break down of the trails here.

About the author: Josh loves to take pictures and sharing them on his South Dakota and the Black Hills blogs. When he is not busy being a Pharmacist he enjoys traveling with his family.

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