Black Elk Peak South Dakota Highpoint Trail

MODERATE 298 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
1440 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.

9 days ago

Epic views at the top. Tough hike when there is snow on the ground but well worth it. Dog friendly.

hiking
15 days ago

Beautiful views along the entire trail from Sylvan Lake to Black Elk Peak then onto Little Devil's Tower. The trail is relatively difficult, but most people could complete it with plenty of water and time for breaks. Definitely my favorite trail in South Dakota.

3 months ago

Beautiful and slightly challenging. Take enough water and trek poles would have been helpful on the way down.

3 months ago

Panoramic views of the best of the black hills!

4 months ago

Amazing trail! If I had to do just one in the hills it’d be this one. Trail is generally pretty moderate, take your time though cause as you near the top it’s pretty steep and rugged. Bring a snack and some coffee to enjoy at the top. Well worth the time

hiking
4 months ago

Amazing! I went up 9 and down 4, starting and ending at Sylvan Lake. I did this hike Dec 1 where it was 50 degrees F and sunny. The sun was low in southern sky and seemed to hit the valley off 9 well in the late morning and afternoon sun hit spires and other large needle boulders down path beautifully off 4. You get amazing views of the spires on 4 and can kind of play on them. I skipped little devils head trail. The little jaunt to top of Harney is tough and it sure is windy up there. My favorite part was the spires off 4.

hiking
5 months ago

Loved it! Great views along the way and at the top!

6 months ago

Great hike! Up #4 with a spur to Little Devils Tower and then on to Black Elk Peak and down #9.

6 months ago

Took trail 4 up and 9 down... 4 is loaded with beautiful views... Cathedral Spites and stunning views on your side going up! The last bit to the top will definitely get your heart pumping! Views at top incredible!

hiking
6 months ago

hiked this a few days ago. Very good trail in that while not easy, is within the ability of most reasonably fit people. Trail does get steeper and more challenging the last 1/2 mile or so. I would bring a hiking stick, really helps your knees on the start down. On a clear day the views are fantastic and it is the highest point at 7240 ft east of the Rockies. Done this hike twice and was much windier and colder at the top, so be prepared. Can be a lot of traffic on this trail depending when you go. Overall, a great hike.

6 months ago

The hike was wonderful. Excited to see all kind of new stuffs. Many flowers, animals, and many different people too. Best parts were when you on top of the mountain and look around to see different part of the country. Definitely will go again.

6 months ago

great, challenging hike to top of a fire lookout building from 1939. great leg workout with lots of step ups.

hiking
6 months ago

Superbe rando avec les 2 « must do » cathédral Spires et Little Devil Tower.

7 months ago

Really enjoyed this hike! Trail 9 going up is easy for the most part. There are some steeper stretches near the top but not bad. We came down on trail 3 for a bit and then it branches onto trail 4. 3 and 4 are definitely a bit more challenging as they are narrower and more rocky but still doable.

7 months ago

This was my first hike!
I really enjoyed it. There were some parts harder then others.

hiking
7 months ago

Gorgeous hike. Start early in the morning as a mid-summer hike can be warm! Did not do the Cathedral Spires loop but went up and back Trail 9. First high point! (July 8, 2017)

hiking
7 months ago

Best hike in the Black Hills! A must do if you're visiting or live locally! Take a lunch/snack and enjoy the view up top. Also take a light coat even if it's hot down below as the weather definitely can change quickly. Easy to moderate hike, but more strenuous at the top. Family/pet friendly.

hiking
7 months ago

Thoroughly enjoyed this hike. It says it takes 4-5 hours but we did it in 2.5. Got plenty of pictures and spent 15 minutes at the summit. Make sure to bring at least a liter of water and a snack. The last half mile or so is pretty strenuous but it was definitely worth the view.

7 months ago

Great day hike with nice views.

hiking
7 months ago

Great trail. Not too difficult at all. Stairs near the top to help you with the quick elevation gain to the fire tower. Amazing tower with a lower door exiting you out onto the rock so you can hike out and explore the dam area and top of the Peak itself. Took #9 up and #4 down. Loved making it a loop to see different views up and down.

7 months ago

The combination of Cathedral Spires trail and a portion of the Black Elk trail was spectacular. Pine trees, a few aspen, Little Devil's Tower, the ascent to the top of Black Elk Mountain (highest elevation point east of Rockies), beautiful views along the entire trail and a good exercise. Plenty places to stop for a snack and enjoy amazing views. One of the best trails I have experienced.

hiking
7 months ago

Great views and enjoyed the approach to the top. Took our dog and she managed it well despite the hot day. We took trail 4 down as someone at the top said it offered great views of the Cathedral Spires but I wouldn't recommend it - minimal shade, more scrub or rough forest, and comes out at the wrong parking lot. (Note: We didn't take the extra time to go down to the bottom of the spires)

8 months ago

Great hike with beautiful views the entire hike, summit is breathtaking! You feel like you can see the entire state from the top! Lots of hikers along the way!

hiking
8 months ago

Great trail with lots of elevation gain.

8 months ago

Prepare for varying weather. I've never hiked it without getting into a thunderstorm. Usually they're short-lived but once came down the mountain in a 1 1/2 hour hail storm. View from the top is great!

hiking
8 months ago

Highly recommend for the black hills area!

8 months ago

Super nice hike with a lot of shade, we made it to the summit within an hour and saw some cool mountain goats. Took no.7up and 4 down, it's perfect and no.4 has so many wild raspberries. Super yummy.
Very rewarding hike!

hiking
8 months ago

The last .5 miles are a steep one, but the view from the top is worth it!

8 months ago

Great hike. Went up Trail 9, down Trail 4. Took just about 5 hrs with lots of stops for rest (the 8 year old) and photos. That 5 hrs also includes maybe 30 min at the peak, having snacks and looking around. Gorgeous!

hiking
8 months ago

7.22.2017 | 15lb Backpack | Recommend: Sunscreen

Visited from Utah and thoroughly enjoyed this hike! Moderate is a fair description as it's enough to get you breathing heavy but not overwhelming to the point you're exhausted. Compared to some Utah hikes, pretty easy and little elevation gain. The views are beautiful and it's worth hanging around the peak to take it all in. (Note that the tower IS the peak).

When hiking up, you'll branch off the main trail to head toward the peak. Trail #9 continues below the peak (to who knows where) and there's a sign that says it's no longer part of the Sylvan Lake Trail. If you make it to this sign, you've gone too far and need to turn back. This was the only portion of the trail that was confusing--signage was good overall. We took trail #9 up and trail #4 down and felt those were the best choices for the views! #9 offers sweeping views and glimpses of the tower. #4 is less crowded and more alpine-esk with better views of the needles. There are photo opportunities everywhere and felt it was a great way to enjoy South Dakota.

Sunscreen, a hat and plenty of water is highly recommended!

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