Explore Dakotas Vacation 2017 - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Dakotas Vacation 2017 Map
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This used to be called Harney Peak. We did it several times with children and my recollection is that there were many scenic vistas on the way up. Once on top, you know it. A great place to have lunch and enjoy the 360 view. The best hike in the Black Hills.

hiking
8 days ago

Date: Jan 3, 2019
Cost: $ subject to NPS Parks Pass
Conditions: Partly cloudy, calm, Mid 30s

Pros: Gorgeous in winter. The ladder in the middle is neat and adds a fun element to this hike. Great expansive view at end of the park, nice spot to watch sunset.

My experience: 1.7 miles round trip. Briefly lost trail at one point. Ladder slippery in winter. I had more trouble going down than up. No problem entering park during Government Shut Down - roads were clear and gates were open. Leave no trace!!!

Cons: Sturdy footwear recommended. Use duck-type boots if wet/winter/muddy. Ladder is quite steep at the top and can be unnerving for some. I imagine the ladder could be congested at busy times. I briefly got off course and only knew it due to my AllTrails app.

IG: Minnesota_Wanderer

Amazing views atop little devils tower

A nice hike to get a decent workout in. Only a few nice views other wise you’re mainly within the forest. Still one to take.

Awesome day hike. Pretty easy with amazing views. Plus my pup loved it. Can’t go wrong with this hike.

Stunning views. Love Custer....I visit as often as possible.

Did this hike a few months back w our 2 pups and we all loved it. Beautiful.

Beautiful. We hiked it with a five year old.

I got an all-time favorite photo here. we loved it. The ladder is intimidating but very secure. great view at the end.

enjoyed to hike to Little Devils Tower in the Black Hills. I went with my Son in the month of July 2018. Nice hike, seen 3 mule buck during the hike up close. Did not go to the top, but my son did.

Hiked trail 9 from the Sylvan Lake parking lot New Year’s Eve night, we were the first to Summit Black Elk Peak in 2019!! Had a blast! Snow was really deep in some areas along the trail. Always love this hike and the view! Cheers to 2019!

I did this fantastic hike with my husband and two young children who were 2 and 3 at the time. We carried them with our Boba carriers the majority of the way. They were both able to hike for portions of this adventure, but they liked getting to hitch a ride as well (they napped in the carriers on the way down). The hike is a lot longer than it seems. On our way back we were asked by many people if they were close and I wouldn't tell them because I didn't want to discourage anyone, but they were only 1/4 or 1/2 way to the peak. Make sure to bring plenty of water and snacks, keep a steady pace, take breaks, and you will have no problem. The view at the top is spectacular! You feel like you are on top of the world and you kind of are. At 7242 feet, Black Elk Peak is the highest summit in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains. Awesome!

We hiked this trail while on a hiking vacation trip around South Dakota. Was unaware of the All Trails App until we met a couple using the app on their way in as we were heading out to our car.
The trail was well marked and easy to follow and was truly beautiful with snow on the ground and falling as we were hiking.

on Balanced Rock Trail

hiking
22 days ago

Beautiful views of the lake, bluffs, and glacial rock formations. Short hike with elevation gain. Close access to other hiking trails or return to the beach.

hiking
24 days ago

This hike is one of the best hikes in the Black Hills area. It is a fairly strenuous hike, but absolutely worth it. I hiked it back in mid October. It has steep parts where you have to hike over and around boulders. Many of those rocks have hand rails anchored into the boulders. The best part of the hike is hiking down the gorge behind the lake. You’ll need to be in decent shape and be able to climb on and around rocks. I’d suggest hiking the trail counter clock wise and do the best part first. Trail will take three to four hours to hike. Scenery is spectacular. The ending part of the trail coming back to the lake is really neat too. Strenuous is the correct rating for this trail. I’m 50, but in better than average shape, and i was pretty tired at the end. If you can only do one hike, this would be the one I’d choose. Absolute great hike.

hiking
24 days ago

Spectacular

This was a beautiful hike. We did this hike on a Saturday in late summer. We started out early in the morning planning to take our time. We only met one other couple and a couple on horses. The overlook views were amazing and we enjoyed our lunch on a rock outcropping with a view for miles. We were also testing our overnight backpacks so our loads made the trail a little more strenuous but we made it to the top only to be met by the large numbers of people hiking up to Black Elk from the other side. The trail is well marked and easy to follow with many scenic views for photos. Some of the steps are pretty high towards the top and with my backpack load I was wishing I had done more lunges at the gym lol but the 360° view from the top was worth it all! The trip down was just as unpopulated but we could see an unforcasted storm moving in, with about an hour left to our car we were in the middle of a lighting storm. We debated about stopping to put rain gear on or staying out of the path of lightening but it was mostly a sky storm with only a few big drops here and there. Just as we were loading the car the sky unloaded. I'm not sure we will hike this trail again as we are from out of state and there are so many areas of South Dakota we want to explore but I'm glad we did this trail it only made us fall in love with The Black Hills even more.

1 month ago

Awesome hike with Gorgeous views. Small herd of mule deer near the top of the mountain which added to the scenery.

hiking
1 month ago

Incredible Views. VERY windy!! lol.

hiked it on August 3rd, 2018. Was beautiful. I recommend hiking to the fire tower then to little devil's tower trail where you can see the fire tower

2 months ago

Fun fast hike with a beautiful view and a neat little ladder ❤️

Ran the trail on 10/31, beautiful day about 40F, didn’t see anyone and the lake store was closed for the season. Went up #9 and down on #4. #9 is better with first scenic lookout at 1 mile mark. Don’t see much until all the way up. The view was wide open and the tower was neat. Very windy and probably 10 degree colder than the starting point. Finish in 2 hours by running, not the best for running since the path was unpathed and rocky, very easy to get ankle injury.

hiking
2 months ago

WOW! Not what I was expecting at all, but then this trail is so varied and amazing I don’t think anyone will be left disappointed. I’ve been blowing off this trail because I usually aim for longer hikes and this one hardly seemed worth the drive. Boy, was I wrong! I expected it to take about 2 hours, but it took me nearly 3 and even then I wish I’d left myself more time to really slow down and enjoy it. It’s one of those places that is so gorgeous, I wish I had the photography skills to do it justice. I read discussions about whether it’s better to take the trail clockwise or counter-clockwise; I opted for clockwise and I’m REALLY glad I did. I carry my daughter in a backpack, so it would have been far more difficult for me (and potentially dangerous) to carry a 50 pound pack down that steep descent as opposed to hitting it uphill. Not only that, but WOW! Talk about saving the best for last! I will DEFINITELY be doing this one again soon!

hiking
2 months ago

Did this hike yesterday with my husband, two children (ages 7,9) and our two dogs. Great terrain, a little bit of climbing which I love! Other than the thunderstorm wiith hail that we were caught in at the top of the trailhead it was wonderful!

will always be my favorite

This trail is a nice addition to the park since my last visit in the early eighties. Try to catch a walk with a Ranger for some interesting facts about the monument.

walking
2 months ago

Easy trail, very nice scenery

hiking
2 months ago

We went Oct 19th and chose to go counter clockwise which I guess is backwards from the way Alltrails wants you to go. The way we went, the steepest part is at the end but definitely the best part. The final section is up the creek. Snow had mostly melted when we went. If it were more icy it would definitely be a challenge. Fun hike. Whole family went. Ages 8 to...well, my age!

hiking
2 months ago

Great hike. Lots of switchbacks and some loose rocks, but overall very fun and quite spectacular.

The view from the top of Black Elk Peak is something else! I'd highly recommend to anyone visiting the area. In the past I've done trail #9 out and back, but yesterday I decided to mix it up and took trail #3 to trail #4 on the way back down. Awesome views of the Needles from trail #4. Both routes were pretty snowpacked and slick in the shade and my hiking partner took a couple of spills. I'll pack some type of traction device the next time I do this in the early spring or late fall.

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