Distance: 7 miles roundtrip (out and back). Elevation gain: 5,166 ft. Duration: 4-5 hours. Highest point in South Dakota. Incredible stone lookout. Great views of the black hills.

The Harney Peak Trailhead #9 is located in the northwest corner of the parking lot just beyond Sylvan Lake. From there, the hike is very straight forward – the beginning of the trail is very moderate, being slightly flat with a few ups and downs along the way.

Once you cross into the Black Elk Wilderness (don't forget to fill out the permit before moving forward), the trail descends a little more to the valley floor. On the other side of the valley, the hike intensifies for the last mile or so, heading uphill. The last quarter of a mile is mostly stairs. Once you get to the top, however, you will forget all about the climb, as you are struck by the beautiful views.

At the top of Harney Peak, if you are so inclined, you can hike quite far up on the climbing rocks.

Be sure to bring layers and rain gear with you in the summer months. The weather will change almost at the drop of a hat.

Pack List

  • Water
  • Rain gear or warm layer
  • Hiking boots
  • Camera
  • Food
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Activities Photography, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Features
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Scenic
Swimming Hole

Reviews

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Top hikes in SD

We loved this trek. A bit crowded but for good reason. Take trail #9 up and trail #4 back down. Trail #4 is a bit longer and will take you through some incredible spires. Enjoy!

Perfect Trail For Perfect Views!

This was surprisingly easy and steady for being the tallest peak in SD/ east of the Rockies. The trail gained elevation very subtly and provided fantastic views almost the entire way. Once at the top, we were able to see for miles and miles. Lots of area to get away from hiking groups and sit down for a beer. We even had service up top and facetimed my mom to show her the view! Loved it! It was the top of my list and it did not disappoint!

Worth Every Step

The Hike to Black Elk Peak is one of the most intense hikes in the Black Hills. Just when you think you're finished you get to climb the steepest steps in the state (I swear). Do not give up and turn around because the view from the top is absolutely phenomenal and breathtaking. Remember to take your time and bring a ton of water to ensure you stay cool and hydrated. This is an amazing hike but can be strenuous even for people who hike on a regular basis!


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Nearby Adventures

More Nearby Adventures

Hike Sunday Gulch Loop

To get to Sunday Gulch Trail you will need to walk around Sylvan Lake to the Northwest End of the Lake, there is a loop all the way around the lake, so either way will take you there.

29 Saves

Paddle Sylvan Lake

Shared parking lot with the Harney Peak trailhead with bathrooms and picnic area. Several points for launching watercraft. There is a beach that gets crowded during summer weekend days.

22 Saves

Kayak Sylvan Lake

There are a few reservoirs within the hot and dry Black Hills of South Dakota. The water here comes from the harsh winter month's snowpack or frequent afternoon thunderstorms.

25 Saves