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

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.

7 days ago

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.

13 days ago

will always be my favorite

hiking
21 days ago

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.

hiking
1 month ago

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.

1 month ago

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.

1 month ago

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.

1 month ago

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

1 month ago

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!

1 month ago

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

1 month 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
1 month ago

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

hiking
1 month 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
1 month 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.

1 month ago

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

hiking
1 month ago

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

hiking
1 month ago

Great

hiking
2 months 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
2 months 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.

2 months 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.

2 months ago

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

3 months 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
3 months ago

Beautiful view at top!

hiking
3 months 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.

3 months ago

One of the best hikes in the Black Hills.

hiking
3 months ago

Worth it.

hiking
3 months 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
3 months ago

Did this trail and loved it. Great views

hiking
3 months ago

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

3 months 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.

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