Harney Peak Trail Professional Reviews and Guides
"Highpoint rank by height: 15th. Be sure to bring along a camera with plenty of film as well as your binoculars, if you have them. The lookout tower on the summit is listed on the National Historic Lookout Register. Ah ha! Another list of places to visit!"
--Charlie & Diane Winger, Highpoint Adventures: The Complete Guide to the 50 State Highpoints (Colorado Mountain Club Press).
"A series of trails through wilderness and exceptional wildlife habitat. Hikers eventually reach Harney Peak. Willow Creek Loop Trail provides vistas of Harney Peak, a bird’s-eye view of the spires of Elkhorn Mountain, and a stroll through stands of some of the Black Hills’ largest ponderosa pines. Starting from Willow Creek Horse Camp, one can either proceed southwest on Trails #2 and #8 or northeast on Trail #9. Along the way, short spur trails lead from the main trail. One short spur takes hikers to a small dam on Willow Creek. Depending on the season and the year,Willow Creek can be a full flow or a quiet seep."
--Bert & Jane Gildart, Hiking South Dakota's Black Hills Country (Falcon Guides).
I'd call this a moderate trail but not terribly difficult. The steepness and stair cases at the end up to the fire lookout were probably the most intimidating for several people we saw along the way.
I took my aunt (not in good shape) on this trip. She was determined to make the trip as part of her Bucket List. It was slow going but we made it. She said it was one of the best times of her life.
We came back down a different path along the Cathedral Spires. That was an outstanding return trip and I'd highly recommend that route back. Just don't get lost or worried if you run in to the logging areas. Pay attention to the arrows on the trees to point you across the open areas back to the trail.
I've done Harney Peak twice now, and the view over the Black Hills from the top is worth the trip. It's also worth bragging rights for being on the tallest point (in South Dakota none the less) between the Rockies and the Pyrenees in Europe!
We hiked the Harney Peak Trail combining the Norbeck Trail. Climbing up the Norbeck Trail with loaded backpacks takes quite an effort, but this is what we did on the first day. The next morning the climb to the top of Harney Peak was a short hike. Making camp and leaving the packs and gear off-trail near the intersection of Grizzly Bear Creek Trail and Norbeck was a smart decision. We were able to take in Harney Peak and Sylvan Lake all in a day. The views on Harney and Norbeck maybe the best in all of the Black Hills. One sad note, however, is that the pine beetle infestation has taken a severe toll on the Black Elk Wilderness area. It will probably take 10 years before these areas recover.
If you are looking to do a weekend backpack trip in the Black Hills I suggest you use the Norbeck and Harney Peak trails to get the most out of this area.
A great hike for nearly everyone, young and old. The trail gently angles up to the peak, the highest point between the Rocky Mountains and the Swiss Alps. In the spring, you might cross a few trickles of water. American Indians sometimes leave prayer bundles along the trail, as the mountain is a holy site.
This loop trail is amazing! It is a nice slow grade all the way to the top of Harney peak. The return loop is as scenic as the way up. Plenty of camping and water along the way. We did the first 2/3 of the trail and then camped for the night. The write-up here says that it is 10.5 miles. Our GPSs logged about 15 miles and our legs felt more like 15 than 10. Overall, well worth the trip!
Great, tough hike for kids and adults. Good workout for me, tough for my 2 and 3 year olds. BUT we made it. Beautiful view. If you know where to look, you can see the BACK of Mt. Rushmore. Lots of traffic on this trail in the summer time. Great opportunity for cool down back at the bottom...Sylvan Lake.
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