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Really great, varied hike BUT be prepared for POISON IVY. If you travel the loop clockwise you will start with a steep ascent and then for the rest of the trail you'll be level, with occasional ups and downs, and gradual descent. During the second part of the hike, you cross a stream several times and in these low lying areas, poison ivy is everywhere and the trail is not well maintained so the ivy encroaches on the trail. Wear pants or at least gators. Also - note that the blue diamond blazes as you approach the main road (clockwise) do not match the marked trail on All Trails layer. The trail on the map appears to go towards the road and then you travel on a path along the road. However the blue diamond blazes follow a path farther from the road and a bit uphill. Just be aware of the discrepancy.

hiking
2 days ago

I dont normally leave reviews, but I felt like I could clear up a few pieces of information.....

the trailhead is behind sylvan lake. You park in the main lot close to harney peak trailhead and go to the right of the lake. you can also get there from general store lot. you will see an obvious sign labelled Sunday Gulch Trail right at the Dam.

At this sign you got two options, 1)go to the left (clockwise) 2) go to the right (counter-clockwise)

we chose to the left. this will be uphill for the first mile or so and downhill most of the rest. Ending with going up a waterfall....a big long waterfall. I think it's easier to go up it than down it.

if you choose to go to the right instead, you will start right away going down this waterfall, which is more difficult, but you will have more energy to complete it.

Dont bring your 20+ week pregnant wife, she will be pissed about the waterfall...trust me! saw young kids complete it, but most of them seemed experienced. You're gonna get wet and maybe muddy. Overall I loved this hike! my wife did too, but she would of preferred doing it without being prego.

takes a bit, and the trail markings aren't the best in spots. not best for kids under 7 but beautiful!

Don't confuse this with Little Spearfish Falls trail, which is really short, right behind the Latchstring restaurant, and has the waterfall. This is up the road, just past Timon campground. We tried hiking it towards Timon, but just past the campground was flooded and didn't know where to go. Looked like beaver dams were holding up a bunch of water. Ended up backtracking it and hiking it the other way. Beautiful hike.

Great variety of terrain. Easy up and down for moderately fit. Poles and two waters suggested.

A mixture of everything including POISON IVY.. Trail really WELL MARKED. Continuing along the creek with crossovers. Fun to see the fresh Buffalo tracks and droppings on the trail and where I might see him. I very much enjoyed walking along and looking down at different fragments of stone catching the morning sun. I met a fewfolks out later in the am, including a older guy ( guessing 70 ) from Rapid City out for a run on the trail with his dog. I’ve never gotten poison ivy before and as I was wearing shorts and low cut socks I really was wondering if my time had finally come as it really was unavoidable. Happy to report I didnt. I would like to take my dogs next time! August 12, 2018

Beautiful and challenging hike. Some steep inclines. Beautiful scenery the entire way. Aside from the Black Elk overlook, there is another peak path that offshoots from the main path that contains some scampering opportunities. Good times all around. Do this trail.

hiking
7 days ago

The best part of lovers leap trail was the views from the top. Wow!!!! If you want to shorten your hike, when you get to the split go left. When you get to the viewpoint turn and go back. By going right you will see a cool stream, perfect for dipping your toes. We saw a deer in this portion. There is a lot of poison ivy on the stream side of the trail. Wear long socks.

With every step, you felt closer to Mother Earth. The stream crossings, the rolling prairie filled with wild flowers, cactus, grasshoppers, were a sight to behold. We saw lots of prairie dogs and heard coyotes in the distance. Buffalo were in the area but we didn’t see any. The warm breezes were so beautiful and peaceful. A comfortable hike. Just over 2 miles. Cannot rate easy because of the hills, and some lack of shade.

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
9 days ago

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

Beautiful view at top!

Did this trail in reverse, up 9 and down 4. #9 was wide and in great condition; amazing views. #4 was narrow and less traveled but with some beautiful views of the Cathedral Spires. Took it slow and easy with my 4 year old hiking alongside. Round trip was about 4 hours.

One of the best hikes in the Black Hills.

Challenging but worth it!

hiking
12 days ago

Worth it.

Great trail with beautiful views. I did this with my 63 year old parents and while it did take a bit longer than expected everyone enjoyed it. Not much shade after the first couple of miles, so be prepared. I recommend packing a lunch and bringing plenty of water. Several great places near the fire tower at the summit to sit, eat and enjoy the views.

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.

Did this trail and loved it. Great views

hiking
16 days ago

9 miles - easy hiking, good signage , lots of cows roaming forest

First time out there and trail 9 was everything we hoped it would be! Come prepared for some mud and an afternoon thunderstorm

What a great hike! I began at 5:45 pm tonight and made it up #4 in exactly 90 minutes (didn’t stop). I took #9 down and made it back with 45 minutes of daylight. The hike was worth every minute, and I only saw a total of six people on the entire hike.

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!

This was an amazing trail to hike! My father and I spent the morning of our trip to the black hill here and couldn’t have asked for a better trail.

Beautiful trail with some picturesque views. We started out using Trail 4 from Sylvan Lake and looped around, coming back Trail 9 ending at Sylvan Lake. It took us 3.5 hrs (started at about 12:30p local) with several stops to complete our hike around the loop. Trail varies from rocky to mushy to dry and flat.
Well worth the hike. Come prepared for an afternoon thunderstorm that will last 1-3 hrs (we got the 2 hr variety). I am a fan of trekking poles and they helped greatly to negotiate the steep rocky inclines. As many others have noted, parking at Sylvan Lake can be problematic.

Very busy trail, but it is vacation season right now and also a weekend. Planning to go again closer to fall when there will hopefully be a few less people. This was a really enjoyable trail. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to enjoy the views since it was so foggy. Just an extra reason to go back!

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
23 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! :)

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