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Hiking South Dakota's Black Hills Country
by Bert & Jane Gildart (Falcon Guides)
© Bert & Jane Gildart/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.
We took the north loop, XC 23 and to our displeasure we found that cattle had recently been driven through the area so for at least 6 miles of the trail we had to deal with cattle waste all over the trail. XC 23 was a disappointment after taking XC 25 in the spring. 25 was a fantastic trail with great views from Bear Mountain and Grand Vista lookout. On both 23 and 25 we were the only hikers on the trail, very remote for the Black Hills. The Forest Service has been doing some work along the creek so the trail markers in those areas are missing in some cases and simply down in others.
Starting from the Boy Scout Camp the trail was a bit difficult to find. However, once you find spring creek on the NW side of the Boy Scout lake its simply a matter of following the creek up. We didnt have any luck finding the "stan-penn lodge mine". From there not far to the grand vista draw where its difficult to find the turnoff to the trail leading southeast (roughly 13T 597800 4860799 UTM). About 1.5miles from this turn you should run into a trail going northeast with a short walk to the "grand vista overlook". It's a great view looking back towards the peaks around the black hills area set atop some awsome rock cliffs. We saw turkey, and partridge up on this plateau. After the view you can head back to the trail to bear mountain lookout tower. Appx 2 miles you should find it and you can pitch a tent overlooking the black hills peaks again. We spent the night there only to wake up to a truck rolling down the road (the lookout can be accessed from country road). From there its all down hill back towards the Boy Scout Camp. Its a nice loop trail, I'd do it again anytime.
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