Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
224.00 ft (68.28 m)
Trail type
Loop
Distance
1.00 mi (1.61 km)
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Located at the northern edge of Wind Cave National Park lies one of the park's best trails offering expansive views of the easterly edge of the Black Hills. A short jaunt from South Dakota State Highway 87, the trailhead is nestled in towering ponderosa pine trees. Visitors will turn from Highway 87 and venture just past a small colony of black-tailed prairie dogs, where they are often seen scurrying from one burrow to the next or chirping to one another while out foraging. The access road leads up to a small parking lot and a gated trail leading to a fire tower situated atop the ridge.

A sign for the trail is located along the trailhead to the left; visitors wishing to build the expereince of their hike would be advised to take the path to the left. From here the trail winds through the pine trees and over rocky steps and worn paths, allowing hikers brief reveals to the valley below. Two noteable stops break up the hike along the ascent. The trail will then curve back to the south once you have reached the top of the ridge. The grand view of the valley below makes its appearance and rewards hikers with an astounding view of the beginnings of the Black Hills trees as they creep up the rolling hills.

The fire tower atop the ridge is not open to the public, but the views are worth the hike nonetheless. From here, the 1-mile loop begins its descent back into the pines and eventually ending back at the parking lot.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Summer

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Wind Cave is a free national park!

Cons

None.

Trailhead Elevation

4,785.00 ft (1,458.47 m)

Highest point

5,009.00 ft (1,526.74 m)

Net Elevation Gain

224.00 ft (68.28 m)

Features

Historically significant
Big Game Watching
Big vistas
Geologically significant
Wildflowers
Bird watching
Old-growth forest
Family friendly

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

Field Guide

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