Explore Todo - 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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I am not an avid hiker (yet). We hiked this trail this summer. It wasn’t too difficult, but I have bad knees. It had one of the most beautiful views I’ve ever seen. Breathtaking.

hiking
6 days ago

beautiful views at the top, well groomed and nice for a quick hike

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

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.

Hike is short and very steep, but not long. Amazing views of the black hills at the top

hiking
1 month ago

Very good trail. Not amazing in itself, but the reason for 5 stars to me is the variety of trail types and an alternate path back down. Also the tower and other structures on top are very cool and we saw several deer along #4 coming back down.

hiking
1 month 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
1 month 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

hiking
1 month 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!

Super fun

So beautifull!

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.

Good hike with kids. A few good vistas, a few good scrambles, good exploring among the spires at the end of the trail. We got lucky and saw a heard or mountain goats along the way.

We went clockwise on this trail. Which was all uphill for about 30 minutes but then it steadied out. It showed a lot of pine trees and some different types of vegetation throughout the trail and followed a creek. Was hopeful to see wildlife, but only saw a couple deer. The trail was a decent one. Took about 2 hours.

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
2 months ago

Hiked this trail today and loved it. It has a little of everything. I went clockwise and enjoyed the ascent in the beginning. The view at the top was breathtaking. I didn’t expect to criss cross a creek several times after the descent. It was so fun! Great trail. I moved pretty quickly and completed it in an hour and a half.

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

Great hike. Had snow falling most of the time. Highly recommend.

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.

hiking
2 months ago

Such a fun hike. The rock scramble and rock stairs were awesome. This entire trail was very scenic with gorgeous views of the foliage. Definitely a quick and fun one. We got done in an hour and a half.

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.

Favorite hike I’ve done in the Black Hills, hands down.

Disclaimer, we did not get a chance to view more than the start of the trail, but wanted to leave a helpful heads up:

The trail appears to be on property potentially used for grazing; the first part of our hike we spent dodging heaps of cow manure in matted down grass. We weren’t deterred until we ran into some fresh bear droppings and paw prints right up the trail.

Perhaps we’re more cautious than your average hikers, but those findings, combined with the fact the property is surrounded by barbed wire, were enough for us to just find a different spot to 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

hiking
2 months ago

I definitely didn’t know what to expect after reading numerous reviews... but I loved it! I wouldn’t consider myself super in shape and it took me 2 hours and 45 minutes and a solid 30 minutes of that was time stopping to take photos, collect rocks, etc. I took 20 oz. of water and some jerky for some refueling along the way (because it was HOT!) I didn’t expect as much roadside noise as there was at the mid-way point but it wasn’t horrible. I started clockwise simply because I’d rather climb huge rocks at the end than jump down them at the beginning.

good but lots of poison ivy in places. we went clockwise which is moderate up hill at first. the rock lookout was very scenic.

Did the clockwise so hardest first. then sun behind us as we came down. nice hike.

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