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Big Hill Trail Outer Loop

  4.0 ( 1 ) Favorite


11.9 mile 19.2 kilometer loop
93% Runnable


Ascent: 1,471' 448 m
Descent: -1,471' -448 m
High: 5,552' 1,692 m
Low: 5,001' 1,524 m


Avg Grade: 5% (3°)
Max Grade: 22% (12°)


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Trail shared by ktboundary Thompson

Run through pine and birch with views of Spearfish Canyon.

ktboundary Thompson

Features Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife


This is the outer loop of the Big Hill Trail System that uses parts of Big Hill Trail #72, A Loop, Big Hill Trail #72, B Loop, Big Hill Trail #72, D Loop, D1 and Big Hill Trail #72, C Loop to form a 12 mile loop. The trails are well-maintained and easy to follow with relatively low grades and easy running. There are views of Spearfish Canyon and a few babbling brooks/streams to enjoy.

Most of the trail is on older Forest Service road, so the overhead cover can be sparse, and also detracts slightly from the singletrack feel. If you are looking for something technical, this isn't the run for you. There may also be cattle, which can be a nuisance.

Need to Know

Can be very wet in the spring. Fall is the ideal season with beautiful foliage.

Runner Notes

This is a well-maintained and marked trail system. There may be cattle on some parts of the trail.


Start at the Big Hill Trailhead and cross the road to get to the start proper. Follow the trail into a clearing where a right-hand turn takes you over a small bridge through a fence.

The trail then comes to the intersection between the Big Hill Trail #72, A Loop and Big Hill Trail #72, B Loop. Stay right and follow the B loop. The trail meanders through some denser aspen groves and climbs a slight grade before descending to meet with the A Loop again.

Stay right and follow the short segment of Big Hill Trail #72, A Loop to Big Hill Trail #72, D Loop. Again, hang a hard right to follow D Loop. Ascend the trail and avoid the creeks if it is wet out. Follow the streams around and back down until a short spur is met called D1. This spur takes you to a viewpoint of Spearfish Canyon. It is worth the short trip out and back to take in the stunning views.

Continue back to D Loop and meet up with Eleventh Hour Spring and the intersection with Big Hill Trail #72, C Loop. Take a right-hand turn to follow C Loop and the Eleventh Hour Creek. This section is a nice run along the stream and would make for a good spot to cool off if needed. Climb up the hill and follow some tight turns through the forest and old service roads. There are views of the surrounding Black Hills from the high points.

Follow C Loop until reaching the junction with Big Hill Trail #72, A Loop. This section is run through some grassy pastures and open areas. There may be some wet spots if there has been significant moisture. Follow A Loop back to the bridge/fence crossing and back out to the trailhead.

Flora & Fauna

Birch, aspen, pine, deer, turkey, wildflowers.

History & Background

Big Hill was named when the early prospectors, heading to gold fields with wagons and teams of horses, could barely make it over the "big hill" when coming from Spearfish.

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in South Dakota


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