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Eagle Cliff Trails Professional Review and Guide
"An extensive series of twenty loop and one-way trails, originally designed for cross-country skiers but also used by hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders."
--Bert & Jane Gildart, Hiking South Dakota's Black Hills Country (Falcon Guides).
I spent 4 lovely hours on this wonderful network of trails that you can make any number of loop hikes from. Because these are primarily cross-country ski trails, what's rated as "difficult" is easy or moderate for hikers, but what it lacks in strenuousness it makes up for in a surprising variety of landscapes and some occasional challenges in finding the generally well labeled trail junctions. Having a compass is not mandatory but definitely helped. The area is lovingly kept-up: while I was there, I encountered two crews of trail maintainers -- park service as well as local skiers who do volunteer clean-up in the fall. Try this loop: park in the second lot (15B), which is smaller but less used. Start on the entry trail and at the first junction take the Lily Lake trail to the right (which is shown on the map in the book but not labeled). Head north on Deep Snow and after veering east, follow Deep Snow past a pond and into a field where it becomes Intake Meadows, which then curves to the north (this transition is one of the confusing bits). After Intake Meadows curves west, look for the fork to the right for Cliff Top. You'll reach your highest elevation here, and it is also about the midway point. Start heading south on Cliff Top, then take Eagle Cliff to the right (west) then south into another little confusing area. After passing Toni's junction, the sign for Sunny Meadow is a little unclear, but follow your instinct (and your compass) due west. Continue on Sunny Meadow, going right when you reach Bratwurst. Finally, at the four-way junction, go right onto Holey Rock and return to the entry trail and back to your car. This should take 3-4 hours. There are intermittent views, but this is primarily a really nice nature walk.
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