River/Creek · Views
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.
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.
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.
Shared By: Willard H