Little Devils Tower Professional Reviews and Guides
"A fairly steep hike up a spur trail, winding through pine forest and ending atop Little Devils Tower among incredible rock formations and views. The trail provides an easy to moderate ascent for the first mile, then descends gentlyto the Midway area by Lost Cabin Creek, entering the Black Elk Wilderness Area. This area has no facilities.Water from the creek should not be consumed unless purified. During the initial ascent, hikers encounter a rocky outcrop with outstanding views of Harney Peak and its surroundings.After the Midway area, the trail ascends once more, reaching a ridge that is fairly flat. About 0.25 mile later the Norbeck Trail #3 joins the trail from the right (south). Continue north following the “#9” blazes on trees. The final ascent of about 1 mile is steep with several switchbacks."
--Bert & Jane Gildart, Hiking South Dakota's Black Hills Country (Falcon Guides).
"A short, pleasant walk through woods with the option of returning along the same path or connecting with the Cathedral Spires Trail to Harney Peak. Follow Trail #4/Little Devils Tower Trail east for about 0.75 mile, crossing two smallstreams and walking through stands of quaking aspen and Black Hills spruce. In the right season, wildflowers such as Rocky Mountain wild iris abound. At the first trail junction, hikers have a choice: The trail to the right stays on Trail #4 and leads ultimately to Harney Peak.By taking the spur trail to the left, one accesses Little Devils Tower. The spur trail begins almost immediately with a fairly steep ascent through ponderosa pine, low-growing juniper, and rocks that look like pancakes turned on edge and stuck in the ground.The trail then makes a sharp left turn through what appears to be a cave."
Of the three hikes I did this summer in Custer State Park (the others being the Sunday Gulch Trail and the Cathedral Spires Trail), this is my favorite. You start from a parking lot trailhead on the Needles Highway (Hwy 87) that serves the Sylvan Lake to Harney Peak Trail and the Little Devil's Tower Trail. The combined trail runs Easterly for about 0.5 miles until it splits, with the trail to the right going to Harney Peak and to the left heading to the summit of Little Devil's Tower. This first 0.5 mile section is very gentle. The trail from this junction to the summit of LDT is challenging at times, but we made it with a 4 year old (sometimes hiking; sometimes on our shoulders), and 7 and 9 yr old. We were never concerned that we had picked a trail too tough for our family. However, the last ~50 vertical feet requires a scramble over rocks that have little handholds or footholds. We chose to take turns going to the summit, with the 4 and 7 yr olds going no farther. From that point (about 50' below the summit), you have an unrestricted view to the south and east. From the summit you have an open 360° view. You can easily see the stone fire watch tower atop Harney Peak which is ~1 mile to the NNE and the Cathedral Spires ~0.4 miles to the ESE. It is a beautiful hike that I highly recommend.
The Little Devils Tower trails is a nice short trail through the Harney range that can be used to access The Cathederal Spires trail to Harney Peak. The trail is usually in good condition but can have snow on it well into May. The trail can be a little muddy in the Spring. The trailhead is a good place to park in Mid-Summer as the Sylvan lake parking area is often to packed to park in on the weekends. If you like to climb bring your ropes along as the LDT trail offers great acces to a number of beautiful rock outcroppings. The view from the path is somewhat limited (unless of course you choose to continue on up to Harney peak) as the forest here is a little denser than most of the Central Hills area. I find late Spring to be the best time to visit the area as there are fewer tourists in the area and the temperatures are still fairly reasonable. Beware of Harney range hail storms though and bring a water-proof shell just in case. Just a note, I believe the "6 Mile" trail length reported in the trail summary includes a summit trip to Harney. I'm not sure of the total length of just the LDT trail but it is much shorter than this.
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