Best Spearfish Hikes

Black Hills

Best Spearfish Hikes

Finding the best hikes near Spearfish is not too difficult. Hiking trails are plentiful in and near this Northern Black Hills city. Really something for nearly every ability level. Short hikes and all day hikes can be found.

Lookout Mountain Park

You don’t even have to leave this city limits to find quality trails. Lookout Mountain Park is over 750 acres just waiting for you right in Spearfish. The trails are open to hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. There are about 10  miles of marked trails, plenty to keep you busy for awhile. The best access is at the Nevada St Trailhead. There is a really good map at the beginning of the trails, just snap a picture with your phone and refer to it as you need during your hike. The area is home to snakes and other wildlife, just be aware as you would on any other hiking trail.

Crow Peak

This hike is over 6 miles round trip  and it is located close to town. There is more than 1000 feet in elevation change and great views of the area from the top.
The Crow Peak trail  has a  significant change in elevation, be sure to bring some snacks and plenty of water. From Spearfish, head north on Main Street.  Turn left on Hillsview.  Hillsview will meet up with Forest Service Road 214 (Higgins Gulch Road), follow that to the trailhead (about 7 miles).

Big Hills

The Big Hills Trails (Trail Number 72) is a series of loops and one spur resulting in over 13 miles of trails. The area was named by the early settlers of the area, describing the “big hill” as they were leaving Spearfish. The trails are about 8 miles south of Spearfish on FSR 134 (Tinton Road)The National Forest Service has more information and a printable map here.

Old Baldy

This another hike on Tinton Road, you’ll find it about 13 miles south of Spearfish. Old Baldy one of my favorite fall hikes. There area has many aspen trees and I just love it when the leaves turn golden in the fall. The loop is about 6 miles and the spur to the top of Old Baldy is about 0.7 miles.

Rimrock

The Rimrock Trail is a couple of loop trails that connect with the Old Baldy Trail. The Little Spearfish Trail is one. The trail is also accessible at the Rod and Gun and Timon Campgrounds. It is on the Rimrock trail system where you will see the Dances with Wolves film site.

Spearfish Canyon

Spearfish Canyon is a great place to spend a day or two. It is a beautiful drive and there is plenty of scenic and challenging hiking. Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway is about 20 miles and will be the road you use to find many of the waterfalls and hiking trails.

Community Caves is a steep hike to a small waterfall and small “caves.” The trail is loose gravel in the summer and nearly a sheet of ice in the winter. This hike is not for everyone, but worth the time if you can handle it.

Devils Bathtub is a very popular hike. I like to hike this early in the morning, before the crowd shows up. There is limited park, do not park on the main road or you will be towed. I usually bring a trash bag and pick up trash along the hike, as a popular hike, less than thoughtful hikers sometimes leave trash on the trail.

11th Hour Gulch is a unique natural feature. It involves climbing on wet rocks and if you want to go to the top there is a homemade ladder that is not for the faint of heart.

Iron Creek is about 11 miles from Spearfish and you will find a small parking lot near the bridge that crosses Iron Creek. This follows the creek and I like to snowshoe here too.

At Savoy, by the Spearfish Canyon Lodge and Latch String Inn there are three trails work exploring. Spearfish Falls trail will take you to Spearfish Falls, the trail begins just the the north of the Latch String Inn, look for the signs and the map.

The 76 Trail is for those looking to hike to the canyon rim for a vista of the area. In less than three quarters of a mile there is an elevation gain of 1000 feet. This will get your heart pumping and make you feel like you’ve earned the views.

The Roughlock Falls Nature Trail begins behind the Spearfish Canyon Lodge. There is a mild elevation change over the one mile trail. The trail delivers you to the base of Roughlock Falls, be sure to bring your camera.

 

 

 

find plenty of day hiking in spearfish canyon

City Park and Bike Trail

If you are looking for a leisurely stroll, check out the city park. The sidewalk is right along Spearfish Creek, the path follows the creek all the way through town.

Deadwood and Lead

Lead and Deadwood are a short drive from Spearfish and they offer plenty of hiking options. The new Homestake Trail connects the two cities. It follows a ridge line starting at  the Deadwood Trailhead of the Mickelson Trail and ending at the Dog Park in Lead. The elevation gain at the begin of the Deadwood portion is pretty steep, some people have found starting in Lead a better option. This trail really provides a great view of the area.

Finding Friendship Tower on Mount Roosevelt just outside of Deadwood is a treat. You’ll find this short hike a few miles past the Lodge at Deadwood, on Mount Roosevelt Road. This page about Mount Roosevelt and Friendship tower has a video of the drive. We really enjoy this short loop hike. There are views of the prairie and of many of the area peak. On a clear day, you can see all the way to North Dakota from here.

Walking from Deadwood’s Main Street to Mount Moriah (Boot Hill) is a hike as it is up hill all the way. The historic cemetery is the final resting place of some of the area’s well know characters. Wild Bill and Calamity Jane are buried here just to name a few. If you are up for more physical activity hike to the grave of Martha and Seth Bullock. If you are still not tired, hike all the way to White Rocks for a bird’s eye view of the area.

 

Wyoming

Devils Tower is about an hours drive from Spearfish. It is the nation’s first National Monument and an area held sacred by many Native American Tribes. There are several loop trails and they really are a great way to experience the beauty of the area.  Climbing is allowed at certain times of the year and it is awe inspiring to watch the climbers make there way to the top. Read more at the National Park Service official website.

Sturgis

The first thought that comes to mind when I hear Sturgis is motorcycles, but do you know there are some really great hiking trails in the area too?

The Fort Mead Recreation Area is nearly 7000 acres of public land, it is located on the East side of Sturgis.  The Alkali Creek Nature Trail is a short hike just off Interstate 90. The 7th Cavalry Trail System is my favorite,it is a mix of wooded trails and small meadows. There are several access points for the trails and the views from certain portions of the trail are incredible.

The Centennial Trail, traverses right through the recreation area.  The Trail begins at Bear Butte and continues for over 100 miles right through the Black Hills. The Centennial Trail also connects with the 7th Cavalry trails.

The Deadman Trails are still under development, but add a lot of great trails to the Sturgis area. This area is south of town and will connect to the Centennial Trail. The trailhead is located at the corner of Pineview Drive and Vanocker Canyon Road.

Hiking in the Black Hills

The weather can change quickly in the Black Hills, be prepare. Always carry plenty of snacks and water. Please gather all you trash and take it with you. Check out these websites for more information

Visit Spearfish – They also have a visitors center at 603 N Main.

Black Hills the Hike – A useful website describing many of the local hikes and recreation opportunities.

The Black Hills National Forest – Many maps and more information on the website. Plus, you can visit ranger stations and inquire about trail and forest conditions.

The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks – Quality information about the areas maintained by the state.

About the author: Josh loves to take pictures and share them on his South Dakota and the Black Hills blogs. Plus he enjoys traveling with his family any chance he gets.

Best Hiking and Biking near Sturgis South Dakota

Recreation

alkali Creek Nature Trail

There are loads of hiking and biking options near Sturgis South Dakota and it pretty easy to find the best trail for you. This small town in the Northern Black Hills offers a lot. There are short trails and long trails, easy trails and difficult trails, plus many of the trails are connected. Basically a choose your own outdoor adventure.

Fort Meade Recreation Area

The Fort Meade Recreation Area is almost 7000 acres of public land. The area was established as a military reservation in 1878 and was home the the 7th Cavalry. The Fort Meade VA Hospital is located here. It is a great mix of history and natural beauty.

Alkali Creek Nature Trail (pictured above) is a short hike through stands of timber and prairie grass. It is just over 1/2 mile long. I like taking my children for hikes here or stopping for a quick hike when I don’t have much time. It is just off Interstate 90 and offers a great view of Bear Butte. It is located near the Alkali Creek Trailhead. There is access to the Centennial Trail and 7th Cavalry Trails from here as well.

The 7th Cavalry Trails offer great options for hiking, biking and horseback riding.  They can be access directly in Sturgis at Lions Park or on Old Stone Road. Access can also be found at the Fort Meade Trailhead of the Centennial Trail and The Alkali Creek Trailhead. I really enjoy spending time on these trails, the area is beautiful and the trails are well marked and easy to find.

Bear Butte State Park

This park is located just north of the Ft. Meade Recreation Area. It is home to Bear Butte, an area held sacred by many Native Americans. The park has a hiking trail to the top of Bear Butte. Hiking to the top is no easy feat, there is a 1000 feet change in elevation, however, the views from the top are worth it! There is also a small lake and campground. And, the Centennial Trail begins here.

 

Bear Butte is a nice hike

Centennial Trail

The 111-miles trail begins at Bear Butte State Park. It continues through the Fort Meade Recreation Area as it heads south through the Black Hills to the Dalton Lake Trailhead and eventually ending in Wind Cave National Park.

You can hike on the Centennial Trail or use it to connect with the 7th Cavalry Trails or meet up the the Deadman Trail System.

 

Deadman Trail System

When the Deadman Trails are completed they will add over 20 miles of trails to the Sturgis area. The trails will connect with the Centennial Trail. This is a rugged and beautiful portion of the Black Hills. The historic city dams are located here, at one time the dams provided water for the city of Sturgis. The area was not accessible to the public for many years and has finally been open for recreation and enjoyment. The hike to the dams is over 4 miles round trip and includes steep trails and loose trail surfaces, this is not a hike for everyone.

The primary trailhead is located in Sturgis a the corner of Pineview  Drive and Vanocker Canyon Road near Flex Fitness. As the trails continue to develop there will be more access points.

Learn More

Black Hills Trails has more information about the trails and a really nice printable map here.

Bureau of Land Management – manages the Fort Meade Recreation Area

About the author: Josh loves to take pictures and share them on his South Dakota and the Black Hills blogs. Plus he enjoys traveling with his family any chance he gets.

Hiking Deerfield Lake Loop Trail 40

Black Hills

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

Trailheads

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.

 

More

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 share them on his South Dakota and the Black Hills blogs. Plus he enjoys traveling with his family any chance he gets.

Hiking from Deadwood to Lead on the Homestake Trail

Recreation

homestake trail Lead Deadwood

There is a great hiking trail connecting Deadwood and Lead. The Homestake Trail is about 3 1/2 miles and is a great way to see nature and some of the mining and railroad history of the area.

I always though it would be great if there was a trail that connected these two cities in the Northern Black Hills and this trail exceeds my expectations. There are a few strenuous portions from elevation gain, but the majority of the trail runs along a ridge line. You really get some fantastic views of the area. This trail was developed by the Northern Hills Recreation Association. They have a nice trail map here.

If starting in Deadwood, begin at the Mickelson Trail Trailhead. As you start out of town on the trail there will be a sign (less than a 1/4 mile from the start) for the Homestake Trail. The old railroad bed will take you up McGovern Hill. There is a lot of private land and homes in this area, please stay on the trail. The trail will follow the ridge line for a good portion of the hike now. As you near Lead, you will cross Mine Street. After that, you will see the old Homestake Mills and the B&M Headframe story on a sign. You will have a nice view of the open cut and then descend to the the dog park. That is the end of the trail, or the starting point if beginning in Lead.

While in the area, the Visitor’s Center at the Open Cut is certainly worth a visit. The place is a treasure trove on the area’s mining history. The pictures, displays and videos are really interesting. The history is just amazing.

I always love a good burger after a hike. If you end in Lead Lewie’s is always a good bet. And, if Deadwood marks the end of you hiking it is hard to beat Mustang Sally’s.

There is plenty more hiking in the Deadwood area. Mount Roosevelt and Friendship tower is just North of  town. Spend some time exploring Mount Moriah (Deadwood’s boot hill),then hike to the grave of Seth and Martha Bullock. If you still have some energy , you might as well hike all the way to White Rocks.

Always carry plenty of water and snacks. The weather changes quickly in the Black Hills, so be prepared.

About the author: Josh loves to take pictures and share them on his South Dakota and the Black Hills blogs. Plus he enjoys traveling with his family any chance he gets.

Deadman Trail System near Sturgis

Black Hills

deadman trail Sturgis South Dakota

When the Deadman Trail System south of Sturgis South Dakota is completed it will add 23 miles of trails to the area. The trails will connect with the Centennial Trail and the 7th Cavalry Trail System, this will create over 50 miles of trails that can be accessed from the city of Sturgis.

Hiking to the old Sturgis City Dams

Part of the Deadman Trail System will include the old dams that supplied water to the City of Sturgis. For many years this area has been off limits to the public and now will be open for recreation.

The trailhead that leads to the dams is located on Vanocker Canyon Road about 2.6 miles south of Bella Joli Winery. From there, it is about a 2 mile hike to the dams. The trail is steep and somewhat strenuous and is over 4 miles round trip. Take your fitness level into consideration before attempting this hike.

Deadman Trailhead

This is the first developed Trailhead for the trail system. It is located in Sturgis just off I-90 exit 32. It is on the corner of Pineview Drive and Vanocker Canyon Road. It is near Flex Fitness. At this point it is the primary access point for the trails.

The trails will be a great asset to the area, Visit Black Hills Trails for updates on trail development. Here is an article that has a map to the area.

As with any hiking in the Black Hills, pack plenty of water and snacks, watch the weather and be mindful of wildlife.

About the author: Josh loves to take pictures and share them on his South Dakota and the Black Hills blogs. Plus he enjoys traveling with his family any chance he gets.

Great Hiking near Sturgis The 7th Cavalry Trails

Black Hills

Hiking, running and mountain biking trails near Sturgis SD

Great hiking, trail running, mountain biking and horseback riding waits near Sturgis South Dakota. The 7th Cavalry Trail System is a great place to get out and enjoy the Black Hills. Over 10 miles of trails in the Fort Meade Recreation Area.

The 7th Cavalry Trail System is a collection of interconnected trails. The Centennial Trail is part of the trail system and it runs right through the middle of the area. There is a great printable map here.  With the different loops, you can make this outdoor fun for a few hours or an all day event.

Trail #3 is access point at the Fort Meade Trailhead of the Centennial Trail. Trail #3 Meets up with Trail #2 (leads to the Lions Park Trailhead) and Trail #4. I enjoyed trail #4 as it offers great views of the city of Sturgis and occasional vistas of Bear Butte and the expanse of prairie to the north.

There is just a lot of options here. Bear Butte State Park is just to the north and the Centennial Trail continues on in the south. And, the Alkali Creek Nature trail is a great short hike.

Trailheads for the 7th Cavalry Trails

Lions Park Just off Lazelle Street

Alkali Creek

Fort Meade Trailhead

Old Stone Road

More Information

Bureau of Land Management

Visit Sturgis

Black Hills Trails

About the author: Josh loves to take pictures and share them on his South Dakota and the Black Hills blogs. Plus he enjoys traveling with his family any chance he gets.

Bear Butte from Alkali Creek Nature Trail

Recreation

bear bute from alkali near sturgis SD

Alkali Creek Nature Trail is a great little hike just off Interstate 90 near Sturgis SD. It is pretty easy to find, just take exit 34 off I-90 and head north past the VFW Memorial Chapel. Not far into The Fort Meade Recreation Area you will see the Alkali Creek Trailhead and Campground. This is also an access point for the Centennial Trail.

The trail is just over a half mile long, but really offers great views of the area. The trail winds through trees and prairie. Plus, you get a great view of Bear Butte.

There are plenty of other recreational opportunities in the area. Bear Butte State Park is about 12 miles north of here. The 7th Calvary trail system is  near here too.

About the author: Josh loves to take pictures and share them on his South Dakota and the Black Hills blogs. Plus he enjoys traveling with his family any chance he gets.

Finding Friendship Tower Mount Roosevelt

Deadwood

friendship tower on mount roosevelt near Deadwood SD

Whenever I’m in the Northern Black Hills and want a quick hike, I head to Mount Roosevelt near Deadwood. Along the trail there are great views of the area and you can checkout Friendship Tower. It is one of my favorite hiking trails near Deadwood.

The tower was dedicated in 1919 as a memorial to Theodore Roosevelt. And, it has been a popular place to visit every since. The trail is gravel and less than one mile long. Take some time to enjoy the view from different points along the trail. There are great views of Bear Butte and the plains to the north. And, many  Terry peak and Custer peak to the south. Plus, a unique view of the Lead/Deadwood area.

There is a picnic area, so one could make an afternoon of the visit. Take some time to climb to the top of the tower and just really soak in the beauty of the area.

There is a vault toilet available, but no fresh water. You will find this picnic area about two and a half miles from the turn off Highway 85. The turn for Mount Roosevelt Road is right by The Lodge at Deadwood, watch for the signs.

About the author: Josh loves to take pictures and share them on his South Dakota and the Black Hills blogs. Plus he enjoys traveling with his family any chance he gets.

Chamberlain Rest Area

History

Rest Area facility at Chamberlain SD

No matter if you are heading east or west on Interstate 90 the Chamberlain Rest Area Facility is a nice place to stop.

There is a great museum that has a re-creation of the 55 foot keel boat used by Lewis and Clark on their discovery expedition. The museum is open from Mid-May to Mid-September each year.

And, the museum and rest area have sweeping views of the Missouri river valley and Lake Francis Case. Plus, the amazing sculpture Dignity of Earth and Sky is located here. This is an amazing tribute to South Dakota’s rich Native American Culture.

I also enjoy the walking paths. I really like to get out and stretch my legs after I’ve been traveling. Do watch for rattlesnakes though.

There is plenty of parking for cars, trucks and campers. Watch for exits 263 and 265 to enjoy this rest area.

If you are into history, maybe take some time to checkout the Old Highway 16 “double barrel” Bridge. It is a fun way to cross the lake from Chamberlain to Oacoma.

Chamberlain SD Rest Area a nice facility

About the author: Josh loves to take pictures and share them on his South Dakota and the Black Hills blogs. Plus he enjoys traveling with his family any chance he gets.

Gavins Point Dam Visitors Center

History

Gavins point dam visitors center

The visitor center for Gavins Point Dam is located on Calumet Bluff on the Nebraska side of the river. It is just across the dam from Yankton.

The visitor center offers great views of the power plant and Lewis & Clark Lake. It is a good place to learn about some of the history of the area and get a better understanding of the lake, dam and power plant.

There are even some natural history displays, and discussions of geology.

Visit the Army Corps of Engineers website for hours.

About the author: Josh loves to take pictures and share them on his South Dakota and the Black Hills blogs. Plus he enjoys traveling with his family any chance he gets.