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Black Elk Peak Loop

Intermediate/Difficult
 4.0 (1) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

The long route to Black Elk Peak, including a loop for extra miles.


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Map Key

15.7

Miles

25.3

KM

82%

Runnable

7,152' 2,180 m

High

4,932' 1,503 m

Low

3,476' 1,059 m

Up

3,527' 1,075 m

Down

8%

Avg Grade (5°)

39%

Max Grade (22°)

Dogs Leashed

Features River/Creek · Views

Overview

This route traverses in and out of the Black Elk Wilderness area as it winds its way toward Black Elk Peak within the Black Hill National Forest. Ponderosa pine, black hills spruce are among some of the trees you'll see. This route is a nice way to explore Black Elk Peak while taking a loop rather than an out and back.

Need to Know

No parking fees at Horsethief Lake trailhead, vault toilets, boardwalk around the lake.

Runner Notes

Trail run, rocky, water crossings, roots... I want to note this route as it provides a route to the highest point in SD, offers a loop rather than an out and back, and a descent milage.

Description

Park at Horsethief Lake and take Horsethief Lake #14 to Grizzly #7. Grizzly #7 ascends with several switchbacks as you climb up toward Norbeck #3. Just off Norbeck #3, there is a short run to Black Elk Peak to take in the views where on a clear day you can see WY, MT, and NE.

Leaving the peak hit Harney Peak #9 (North), another steep, rocky trail that descends sharply toward Willow Creek Rushmore Trail #5. This is a short but amazing trail that runs adjacent to the highway, with a gentle easy grade. Seems like an old logging road perhaps.

This dumps you back to Horsethief Lake #14 back to the trailhead. We added a bit to our trip to get 15 miles.

History & Background

The granite peak is scared ground for Native Americans. In 2016 its name was changed from Harney Peak to Black Elk Peak, and the fire lookout building made of stone with spectacular views still sits. This is the highest point in South Dakota at at 7242 feet.

Contacts

Shared By:

Willard H

Trail Ratings

  4.0 from 1 vote

#4095

Overall
  4.0 from 1 vote
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Recommended Route Rankings

#14

in South Dakota

#4,095

Overall
62 Views Last Month
62 Since May 23, 2021
Intermediate/Difficult

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Photos

View from Black Elk Peak
Dec 28, 2020 near Custer, SD
Wildlife at the Harney Peak Fire Tower.
Apr 15, 2016 near Custer, SD
Elkhorn Mountain granite formations
Apr 20, 2019 near Custer, SD
View from Black Elk Tower
Jul 14, 2020 near Custer, SD
Tagged goat #98 at the summit of Black Elk Peak
May 28, 2018 near Custer, SD
Snow covered trail
Apr 20, 2019 near Custer, SD

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