Help keep our trails and parks open during COVID-19 by committing to social distancing. Some trails or park services may be closed this weekend so check with local authorities before heading out.
Learn more

Black Elk Peak South Dakota Highpoint Trail

moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow Star(887)
Black Hills National Forest

Black Elk Peak South Dakota Highpoint Trail is a 7.6 mile heavily 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 best used from May until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Length 7.6 mi Elevation gain 1,551 ft Route type Loop

Dogs on leash

Kid friendly

Hiking

Horseback riding

Nature trips

Walking

Bird watching

Running

Forest

Lake

River

Views

Wild flowers

Wildlife

Rocky

Description
Waypoints (3)
Tips
Getting There

There is a $20 entrance fee to access this trail. 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.

No fees to park here but you must register for the climb. Also, there is a $5 fee to drive the highway to the trailhead.

Sylvian Lake Trailhead: Take route 16 west about 30 miles from Rapid City to Hill City, SD. Continue on 16 to about 3.2 miles out of town and turn east onto route 87. Follow this 6.1 miles to the Sylvan Lake day use loop road. The trail starts at the Northwest corner of the loop.

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (887)
Photos (1437)
Recordings (535)
Completed (1842)
Abraham Aguilar
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFri Jul 10 2020
Hiking

Awesome trail must do while in the Black Hills

David Wenaas
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarThu Jul 09 2020
RockyWashed out

This was a great up down hill hike with all of the beautiful Black Hills views. Terrain is rocky with some sand, gravel, dirt and uneven. We took the #9 Black Elk Peak trail up which took us about 1:45mn to the must see peak. We took the #4 trail down and around to Devils Tower on the way back. The #9 trail steeper and a quicker route vs: the #4 which wasn’t as steep and winded in and around some beautiful country. My 14 and 15 y/o approve, I say it’s a must do 5 Star Black Hills SD hike.

View David's Recording
John Brantsen
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarWed Jul 08 2020
Hiking

This is a fun trail with spectacular views. Much of it is runable too!

Galen Sheffield
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Jul 05 2020
Hiking

Everything about the Black Hills is amazing. This trail has unbelievable views and very well marked path. The last climb towards the fire tower is intense, after logging 3 miles to get there. We went to the right at the trailhead. We started at 730 and the heat got real by the time we made peak. Start early!! Not much shade.

Maria Cathleen
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFri Jul 03 2020
HikingBugsNo shade

Amazing. This is a challenging hike because it is exposed and hot. Bring water and a snack to the top at the fire lookout! That was a surprise!

Jesus Hernandez
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarThu Jul 02 2020
Hiking

Great trail. Last day of June and it was 55 degrees at 11am when we started our hike. Mostly smooth trail at the lookout tower has a door at its base that lets you out on the rocks.

Gini Herndon
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarThu Jul 02 2020
Hiking

Beautiful views of the Black Hills - trail is well maintained and has lots of elevation changes both on the way to Harney Lookout and on the return to the parking lot. We didn’t take trekking poles but they may have helped on the stone steps in some areas. Long and difficult enough to feel like an achievement.

Shawn Rulon
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarWed Jul 01 2020
HikingRocky
View Shawn's Recording
Amy Thomas
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarWed Jul 01 2020
Hiking

Gorgeous views, and loads of shade. Actually pretty chilly today. Used trekking poles which were super helpful with al the rocks. Highly recommend!

Haley Sater
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarTue Jun 30 2020
HikingFee

A wonderful way to see, views, wildlife, and alpine flowers. The trail has a lot of up and down portions which give you a lot of breaks rather than an all uphill climb and downhill descent. There is a 360 view and castle-like tower on top which I'd call the cherry of this hike.

Garrett Hamby
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSat Jun 27 2020
Hiking

Had a wonderful time! This one is always a favorite of mine to go on. Alot of people, seemed like we would pass or get passed every 10 mins. It took us about 4 hours. We took it slow, and had alot of breaks. Alot of beautiful foliage.

View Garrett's Recording
Leyton Atkinson
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Jun 27 2020
HikingRockyScramble
dain johnson
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarThu Jun 25 2020
Hiking

Great trail. Great views.

Brianna Lewis
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarTue Jun 23 2020

Fantastic gorgeous hike! If you go out to Little Devil’s Tower there is some rock scrambling but nothing too intense. Kids managed just fine! Took trail 4 up with the add on of Devil’s Tower (there will be a pole that says LDT on it and then blue diamonds to follow over the rocks). Took trail 9 back after getting to the Harney Tower Lookout. Jumped in Sylvan lake at the end. Absolutely perfect!

View Brianna's Recording
snydroponic User
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarWed Jun 17 2020
Hiking
View snydroponic's Recording
Christine Stanley
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarWed Jun 17 2020

Awesome trail! It took us about 4 hours round trip. It's a bit difficult as you get close to the top, but well worth it.

Alex Morose
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarTue Jun 16 2020
HikingRockyScramble

This is the tallest peak East of the Rocky Mountains, so that in itself has a certain allure. Be weary of weather as we got stuck in a lightning storm at the top. In scrambling to try to leave quickly I managed to leave my go pro (if you find one let me know). We took trail #9 to the summit and trail #4 down. For more info on trails and hikes check out my Instagram, @alex.morose

Kelly Klus
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMon Jun 15 2020
Hiking

Beautiful hike! Took trail #9 up and accidentally took trail #4 down but glad I did... the views 4 offered were well worth it! The trail seemed wider and less rocky on #9 if that’s your thing.. round trip took me 3 hours.

Edoardo Sarda
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMon Jun 15 2020

great trail with great views..... it gets quite windy at the top... my wife and I hiked it with our 20 months old, so it's not that bad.... we also ran into many families with little ones... it's worth the $20 entrance fee....

Kevin Fitzgerald
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Jun 14 2020
Hiking

This trail will cost you $20! Besides the steep price it is a very scenic and beautiful hike. The area around the peak features a cool lookout and a chilly pool of water. Highly recommended.

Hannah Rathgeber
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Jun 13 2020
HikingRocky

Awesome trail. We started at 8:45am and finished around 1pm. There were lots of other people on the trail. Make sure to bring water and food and wear good shoes because it’s a strenuous hike.

Lydia Teopas
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarThu Jun 11 2020
Rocky

So many beautiful views, towards the top it gets much more complicated and steep but so worth the view. Absolutely stunning!

Scott Searles
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMon Jun 08 2020
HikingRocky
View Scott's Recording
Dave Shenton
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMon Jun 08 2020
Hiking

We did this one today. Great hike. A definite top 10. Not so long that it makes for a grueling day, but not so short that you don't feel like you accomplished anything. Great scenery. A unique summit. We traveled clockwise, which I believe probably helped us. Could have spent 2 hours on the rocks at the summit. One tip. If you would like to do this, but the length is intimidating, do the Cathederal Spires hike. The path from there to the beginning of this trail is beautiful. Lots of aspens. Green patches of grass running right up to the rocks., etc.

Andrea Wittine
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Jun 07 2020
Hiking

Great hike. Per other reviews we went up trail 9 and came down via trail 4. It’s within Custer State Park so heads up there’s a $20 entrance fee. Trail 4 was a bit steep coming down but we enjoyed the different views and there are options for additional trail spurs. Took a total of 4 hours with a nice break at the top, enjoying the amazing views. We expected a muddy trail since it poured the night before but it was only wet in a few small spots. We arrived at the trailhead at 8 am on a Sunday and the lot was about 20% full. By the time we got back at noon it was completely full and cars were circling. All in all we really enjoyed the vegetation, terrain and views

View Andrea's Recording
Alyson G
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFri Jun 05 2020
Hiking

Great hike with truly unbeatable views, both along the way and especially at the top. Took me about 4.5 hours including a long (30+ minute) stop at the top to take pictures and scramble around on the rocks for a while. I took a half day from work and hiked it on a Thursday afternoon to avoid the crowds; there was still a good number of people on the trail, although much fewer than on the weekend, so doing the social distance thing wasn't too difficult

Showing results 1 - 26 of 887