Explore South Dakota - 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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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.

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.

hiking
13 days ago

Found the trail head easily. 3.3 miles uphill, moderate to hard in my opinion. I hike a lot and it took me 1.5 hours to reach the summit. 30 min spent at the top enjoying the stunning view! Then 1 hr. back down. Ran into about 4-5 other sets of hikers. I had cell service about a mile into the hike FYI. Fantastic hike!

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.

This trail was worth every bit of hiking whenever you get to the top. It shows a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains and the needles. The view was breathtaking. The beginning of the trail was the most difficult, as it was all uphill. The end of the trail there was some rock climbing, so it made finding the trail a little difficult but once you made it, the view was incredible. Definitely recommend doing this trail.

hiking
28 days ago

we hiked this trail during a beautiful snow storm October 15th 2018, there were some of the most breathtaking views of the snow covered trees and the peaks and rocks along the way. the trail was pretty easy to hike up until we came to the fork where you can follow the slate creek or continue on following the rapid creek, we choose to go the slate creek way and found several creek crossings that were narrow boards and that portion of the trail was moderately strenuous in my opinion, alot of inclines and the snow was making the rocks rather slick. we had decided to turn around because of the slick conditions from the snow and not wanting to
take the risk of an injury.
we will probably through hike this trail in the summer sometime when the conditions are a little better for back packing and probably start at Deerfield lake this next time. so overall I say this is definitely an awesome trail and well worth the time!!

Great hike! Went up #9 and down #4 in about 3 hours, including a LOT of stopping for pics and following tracks. #4 was pretty wet with the recent melt. If you are only doing one hike in the area, this would be it. If you don't want the full loop, go up #4, Cathedral Spires are a sight.

Took #9 up and #4 down. Went up two days ago. Beautiful hike just after a light snow and trail is well kept. Took my time exploring the little devils tower and cathedral spires on the way down, took about 4 hours in total. Saw a mountain lion 15 ft away about 3/4 of the way up #9, seemed like a nice guy though

Did this Oct 9. 2-3" of snow. Was a nice hike but of course fogged in at the top. We followed tracks in the snow for more than a mile before we came upon a cougar near the trail split at the top. Was cool to see for the few seconds we saw it. Despite no view it was a very awesome hike. Snowed on us on the way back down.

This was a nice trail at the foothills of Mt Rushmore. Too bad half of the trail was closed for reno (closed until spring 2019). Grateful to have a ranger Dot take us on a quick guided tour of the trail to point out numerous facts about the mountain.

We hiked out on trail 4 and took the Spur out to the little devils tower. It was a great lookout Over the valley and over to the fire station. It was also a fun scramble to get up to it. The view from the fire station is spectacular except it was very windy. We hiked back to our car on trail nine. It gave a great perspective of how high up we were on the little devils tower. It was also nice to get a different view coming back to our car. Excellent hike.

hiking
1 month ago

Took Bentley for a beautiful, fun fall hike.

Great trail. We went up #9 and came down #3 to #4. We parked at Sylvan Lake which is part of Custer State Park. You must pay an entrance fee to park at Sylvan Lake as part of Custer State Park and the entrance fee is good for a week. The trails actually then leave Custer State Park and go into the Black Hills national forest where are you sign an entrance document on the trail. The trail is well maintained, dirt and rocks and not technical. The hardest part was probably going up the incline and the stairs at the end to reach the fire tower. The fire tower at the end was a lot of fun to explore - lots a little nooks and crannies. This clocked in at 7.6 miles and took us 3 1/2 hours. The scenery and views throughout were amazing. If you are in decent shape you will be fine on this

Somewhat narrow areas on the path. Ages3 and above will be ok on the path. Great views on the way to the falls!

Easy walk to a great falls. Not strenuous.

Easy paved trail with views of Rushmore, gets you away from the crowds. This place was kind of strange.

hiking
1 month ago

Hiked this with my 70+ years old parents and they had no trouble. Took about 75 minutes. Absolutely great hike and would recommend. I don't think it matters much which way you take the loop as there are ups and downs both ways.

hiking
1 month ago

Nice easy hike. About 2 miles total from Spearfish Canyon Lodge. We’ve hiked and snowshoed. A great hike before breakfast. We had fresh powder one morning and were the first one out on the trail. The falls were amazing to see with the ice and snow covering. Nice views from above the falls any time of year.

Went up trail 9, came down trail 4. It was a challenging hike, but totally worth the beautiful views! Not for beginners. It’s a hike up trail 9 but a nature walk down trail 4. Enjoy!

Awesome, tough hike. Not for beginners. Long and steep, but totally worth the work. The views are out of this world!

Great views! We did the loop from Trail 4 and back on and did the Little Devil's Tower as well. A little over 9 miles.

Awesome Hike on a beautiful day.
Went up on trail 9 and came back in trial 4.

hiking
1 month ago

I'm giving this a "5" because of the sacredness of the canyon. It's unmistakable. Take it in. Really easy.

I came for the destination and ended up enjoying the journey. It's a long, unchallenging hike. You walk and walk and walk and eventually ascend to the peak where you ... look around. You're so high that the endless views, while admittedly beautiful, have little scale.

Along the paths up (we took trail 9) and down (trail 4), however, you'll find magic. Unexpected views, sudden spires, and quiet beauty everywhere. It's a wonderful trail.

1 month ago

An amazing trail with a great view

Gorgeous hike, a bit challenging as the trail became more rocky near the top, but so worth it. It’s also good to remember the elevation of the area — Custer is at 5500 ft (higher than Denver), so the air is a bit thinner. The trail isn’t especially shady, so if the sun is out, bring plenty of water; I almost finished 72 oz. Trail snacks, too. We went up #9 and down #4, which allowed for amazing views in front of us both ways. It took us about 5 hours, but we stopped for photos and a brief rest/snack at the top. If you have trekking poles, bring them for the trip down — your knees will thank you. One of my favorite hikes.

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