Black Elk Peak South Dakota Highpoint Trail

MODERATE 434 reviews

Black Elk Peak South Dakota Highpoint Trail is a 6.8 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Custer, South Dakota that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
6.8 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1,440 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dogs on leash

kid friendly

birding

hiking

horseback riding

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

lake

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

old growth

rocky

This granite 7,242 ft mountain lies in the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota. There is a historic stone firetower at the top that is no longer in use but is open to the public to check out. The trail in to the peak takes you past amazing granite towers rising out of the hills. It is a very unique geological area.

40 minutes ago

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

1 hour ago

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.

hiking
12 hours ago

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

hiking
5 days ago

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.

hiking
5 days ago

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.

6 days ago

Surprised at the ruggedness of this area, it was definitely a challenge but totally worth it. Spectacular hike!

hiking
6 days ago

Great walk! The highest peak from east of Rockies to the Pyrenees

hiking
6 days ago

Great

hiking
8 days ago

One of the most beautiful places I have ever been. The drive there up the Needles Highway was great, we even saw some mountain goats. The trail was awesome. At about 1 mike in is an amazing view and there are many more all along the way. The peak itself is unique due time the watchtower. Definitely recommend this trail!

hiking
27 days ago

Great hike. Went up Trail 9 and down Trail 4 this was the perfect way to go. Great scenery all the way. Both trails start from the same parking area at The lake.

1 month ago

This was a fun hike for our family. Adults over 40 (ok, maybe closer to 50 now) and sons 11 and 13, we even brought the dog. We started at noon and went round trip 4 hours later. We took plenty of time to enjoy the scenery and scramble the fun nooks and crannies. We enjoyed a quick picnic at the top. The views are great, the hike was not too difficult for those in moderate shape. We took 9 up and 4 down. Both were beautiful and worth the split. Plenty of water and some snacks recommended.

1 month ago

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

1 month ago

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
1 month ago

Beautiful view at top!

hiking
1 month ago

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.

1 month ago

One of the best hikes in the Black Hills.

hiking
1 month ago

Worth it.

hiking
1 month ago

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.

hiking
1 month ago

Did this trail and loved it. Great views

hiking
1 month ago

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

1 month ago

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.

hiking
1 month ago

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.

hiking
1 month ago

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.

hiking
1 month ago

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!

1 month ago

Great trail. Only problem was it was very populated. Go early to avoid growds. Took us 2.5 hours round trip. We had a good steady pace on the way up. On the way down we had to stop to let people by far too many times. Have fun.

1 month ago

Such a fun trail. We arrived at 8:00, the parking lot was already about 1/3 full. We did trail 9 up and 4 back with our 5 kids. The way up to the fire tower was very muddy, but had beautiful sweeping views of the valley below. Lots of wonderful photo opportunities. Gypsum and quartz lined the trails and made the trail glitter in the sunlight. The fire tower itself was really fun to explore as well as the surrounding rocky area/boulders at the top. Trail 4 on the way back had less mud and more wildflowers. There were lots of wild raspberries lining the trail to graze on as we went.

hiking
2 months ago

Very rocky paths which turn to streams after rainfall. You may wish to time your hike around storms.

hiking
2 months ago

Hiked 7/19/18, left around 8 AM and parking lot was about half full. Took about an hour an a half up. I was a little confused, but you CAN swim at the top. Water is VERY cold but we also just got a lot of rain. Hopefully will warm up in a few days. Bring plenty of water 2-3 at least.

hiking
2 months ago

This is my third trip up the north side, more challenging and scenic than the Sylvan Lake Approach. Approx. 6-7 Hours up and back...and three bottles of water plus a Gatorade at the finish. Very hot, and a steady climb. Saw two other couples on the entire trek. Great views and places to eat lunch. A lot of horse droppings and the constant helicopters on their way to Mt. Rushmore made me feel like an ex-con on the run. Well worth it, only one stream and with all the horse activity I would be hesitant to drink even treated water.

hiking
2 months ago

Did this trail in 3 1/2 hours. Amazing views from the top. Bring sun screen!

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