Bear Butte State Park Trail

Sturgis, South Dakota 57785

Bear Butte State Park Trail

Bear Butte State Park Trail Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"Although Bear Butte is not part of the Black Hills proper, its inclusion is justified for several reasons. Historically, Bear Butte stood as a landmark, pointing the way for many early day “hikers,” trudging across the prairie in search of wild game, gold, furs, or homesteads in the Black Hills. Because of its prominence and beauty, the Butte has served as a beacon. It still does. Rising 1,200 feet above the plains, it is located just outside the northeast corner of the Black Hills, approximately 6 miles northeast of Sturgis, South Dakota, and is part of Bear Butte State Park.

Mato Paha (Bear Mountain) is not a butte at all, but a solitary mountain formed millions of years ago. Bear Butte is the northern terminus for the Centennial Trail, which courses more than 100 miles through the Black Hills. Though the Summit Trail is not one of the easiest of the easy day hikes, it is included here because it provides such sweeping views, and because it provides a significant chapter in the history of Native Americans. A trek from the base to the peak of a sacred mountain, the trail winds through a pine forest; many tree branches are draped with prayer flags and ceremonial objects."

More Bear Butte State Park Trail Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Hiking South Dakota's Black Hills Country (Falcon Guides)
Bert & Jane Gildart
View more trails from this guide book
"A 2-hour hike from the base to the peak of a sacred mountain. The trail winds through a pine forest; many tree branches are draped with prayer flags and ceremonial objects." Read more

Bear Butte State Park Trail Reviews

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7/3/2018
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10/1/2008
A couple friends and I were doing some hiking in the Black Hills and were looking for a hike to fill out our afternoon. As there were only a few other hikers on the trail, we were able to make the round trip hike in about 2 1/2 hours, with a nice 30 minute stay on the top checking out the views of Bear Butte Lake and the surrounding plains and the Black Hills. Due the the past fire, Bear Butte has a very severe look to it, but it is also very serene at the top. Well worth the effort.
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7/15/2005
Great view and interesting history. Bring plenty of water on this well defined trail.
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6/1/2001
Bear Butte is a State Park so it'll cost you $5.00 for a vehicle or $3.00 per person. This hike is totally worth the views from the top which sports a viewing platform. I found this hike to be moderate. To many Native Americans this is a Sacred Mountain and prayer cloths and other objects are present at almost every point of the trek. Its a very spritual place. There is a visitor center which provides some really neat historical infromation about the mountain. Check it out.
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5/10/2001
Bear Butte stands alone off the South Dakota plain, rising several hundred feet quite abrubdtly. It offers excellent views of the Black hills and surrounding plain. The Butte itself suffered a fire recently and much of the Ponderosa forest on the mountain is charred. The hill seems to be recooperating slowly so there are often small landslides of rock to be aware of, as the butte's topsoil gives way to erosion. Other than that this trail is a simple and enjoyable hike consisting of numerous switchbacks to reach the butte's summit. There is also a small lake near the park and a few head of bison roaming the area. There is a water spigot at the upper parking lot but I would bring your own water as it tends to be a little warm.
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Bear Butte State Park Trail Photos

Trail Information

Sturgis
Nearby City
3.6
Distance
1,026 feet
Elevation Gain
Out-and-back
Trail Type
Moderate to Difficult
Skill Level
2 to 3 hours
Duration
Best late spring through fall
Season
Bear Butte State Park
Local Contacts
USDA Forest Service Centennial Trail User Guide. Bear Butte State Park management has provided a sketch map of the trails on an information sign at the trailhead.
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Dec 2018