Explore Black Hills - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

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Stunning trail! I’m very uncoordinated, so the boulders near the water gave me some issues, but there are plenty of handrails to hold onto. Many water crossings and great views. Variations in terrain make this trail a lot of fun.

Only 2.8 miles even says that at the trail head and is listed as strenuous. A good trail did it counter clockwise and that is definitely the more difficult way. Not a good trail if you have little ones and dogs should NOT be allowed!

Gorgeous scenery!

hiking
4 days ago

Beautiful scenery; hands down one of my favorite trails in South Dakota!

Great trail! Followed water the entire time. We had lunch at the water, it was beautiful time!

Challenging but worth it!

we managed to hike all the way to stagebarn canyon rd, gets overgrown but doable, did run into poisonous nettle, if you start at road it is about 8 miles to Piedmont, we caught a ride back to truck

on Lake Sylvan Trail

hiking
9 days ago

Love this lake, very easy trail. When visiting Custer state park, we always stop and walk the lake

The trail was well maintained and not too busy. Make sure you read the signs when you get off the main road and it’s easy to find. Go off the beaten path and follow the crest of the mountain for some spectacular views.

11 days ago

Challenging to find trail head, only parking available is alongside the road. Thank you to the hikers who placed the cairns in key locations.. super helpful as there is minimal to no signage. The canyon is beautiful and other worldly. Will hike again earlier in the summer.

13 days ago

Couldn’t figure out the trail head, it was ill maintained through the thick. Will try again later and update the review.

Beautiful hike! Water was rushing and high due to recent rain. Bridges were a bit intimidating for us old folks so we scooted across....where there’s a will there’s a way!

Loved the trail; however we were unprepared to cross 4 bridges over rushing water. Good thing we could sit and scoot across! Also easy to get lost due to no signage to guide you. Hard to know which way to go!

My husband, 8 year old son and our 4 month old Great Dane hiked this today and it was amazing!!!! The light rain made everything more fun! A definite must on any Black Hills hike!!

hiking
18 days ago

First, let me say that I consider myself a novice hiker. The types of hiking I normally enjoy are easy and very flat. I am also going to admit that I am 100 lbs overweight as well. Needless, to say I was more than a little concerned about whether or not I could complete this hike and the closer we got to the day we were to go, the more unsure I became.

My husband and my son both were looking forward to it and said that didn't want to do it without me. In hindsight I suppose I was taking a big risk in choosing to do this hike, but my husband said we would stop as many times as we needed to and take as much time as we needed. So, they convinced me.

I had done some research on this trail beforehand and looked at a lot of pictures as well. I have to say that it really did look intriguing. We have a medium sized dog, she weighs about 50 lbs that would be going with us and after reading several reviews by other people who had taken dogs on this hike, I decided we should go counter-clockwise around, starting with the boulders first. I figured it would be a lot easier, for me at least, and for our dog as well, to climb DOWN the boulders instead of up.

It was somewhat confusing at first trying to figure out which way to go because the actual signs for the trail point to the LEFT, but if you go to the left you will be doing the trail CLOCKWISE, which is fine, if you want to be climbing UP a bunch a boulders after you have already hiked 3 miles. We finally figured out we needed to go to the right to begin the trail when we went down some steps and around a corner where we found a posted map of the hike.

So, on to the hike! Going down the boulders was actually pretty fun! There were areas where we had to step in or wade through some running water. After climbing down all of the boulders, the hike wound around the gulch and was very scenic with a lot of rock formations, trees, running water and even a cave! At one point there was a steep set of stairs we had to climb down, so if you are going clockwise, you will have to go UP these stairs.

Eventually, what go goes down, must go up and so did we. This is when it started to get pretty difficult for me. I had to stop A LOT but my husband and my son were very patient and waited for me until I could continue. I did reach a point when it was no longer fun, I was exhausted and wanted it to be over. My son noticed that we were very close to the road. He said maybe he and I should hike up to the road and wait for my husband to go back to the car and then pick us up on the side of the road. Bless his heart,. I should have done as he suggested, but no, I didn't want to be a quitter, so I went on. Little did I know at the time that we still had about an hour to go.

I am happy to say, however, that I MADE IT!!! It took us about 4 hours to complete. My husband and my son were proud of me and I was even pretty proud of myself! My legs were very sore for the next few days, so needless to say, this was the only hike we did while we were in the Black Hills. I read one review that actually said, "if you only have time for 1 hike, do this one", so I did and I am glad I did.

Next time we go to the Black Hills, I will be have lost weight and be in better shape so that I can do some of the other hikes too! :)

great for kids and dogs

Fabulous trail. So much diversity. Great vistas, thick forest, bouldering, lots of water, wild raspberries everywhere. Be prepared to get your feet very wet. Wear water shoes and enjoy the walk.

This is a very beautiful area and the trail is fairly easy (but not suited for baby strollers). The lake, the waterfall, and the rocks make it interesting. A very cool place!

1st time hiking the Little Elk Creek trail today. Beautiful hike! Most of the trail is fairly flat and easy, but some spots are rocky and make the trail a little more difficult. Most of thw trail runs along side the creek.

Awesome trail, well marked. We went clockwise so we ended up at the gorge with the water really flowing over the trail and steps due to the heavy rain the night before. If you don’t mind wet feet it was a blast. With going clockwise you are almost to the end so we didn’t to walk with wet shoes long. Wife and and I are 63 it took us about 3 hours.

hiking
25 days ago

Neat trail for the diversity. Half of the trail is intertwined with a stream. A 1/4 is wooded trail and the last 1/4 is exposed hillside.

Waterproof shoes or sandals are highly recommended. Regular shoes will get wet and you’ll have to cope with soggy feet for the remainder.

I did have to carry our dog for one or two portions of the stream, otherwise very dog friendly.

You can hear passing traffic for a portion of the trail detracting from the experience.

walking
25 days ago

I go to the Black Hills every year so I am on a mission to find the best trails to go on with my German Shepherd.
This one was an amazing trail if you wanted to do it by yourself, with no dogs. If you start the trail counter clockwise, that would be the safest bet for your doggie friend, if you were to go clockwise, you would have to end up helping carrying your dog up the water section. The rocks were very slippery so your dog would have to be great on his feet. After you get past that, it’s smooth sailing from there and you can enjoy a nice trail.

hiking
25 days ago

Super nice trail and is easy to find. Access to the creek for most of the trail, so it’s great for dogs. Relatively quiet - we didn’t see a lot of people. Note that at one point the trail splits - up and then down by the creek. We went up and had some nice views. If you stay along the creek there, you’ll be scrambling over rocks quite a bit. Also - there is no lake on this trail. You get to about 2.5 miles and the trail connects with a county/forest service road. If you continue hiking along the road for maybe another mile (??) you’d get to the lake. Great hike, though.

hiking
26 days ago

My kids and I had a lot of fun. They are 3 and 4 years old so it was easy enough but still challenging for young kids. The little creek is beautiful and the views were stunning.

scenery was amazing - creek is very full and running fast
we just did the easy hike to dam and back and enjoyed it thoroughly

Light to moderate trail. Beautiful relaxing hike!

we loved this hike! so much variety! not too long but still challenging. we did the hike clockwise and were happy we did because the best scenery was at the end portion so it was a great way to end the hike with a bang.

Amazing views

Took the dog with us, nice view, peaceful, and a must do!

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