Hiking to Harney Peak

South Dakota Harney Peak Trailhead

Added by Spud Groshong

  • 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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Hiking, Photography

Skill Level:



Spring, Summer, Autumn



Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Swimming Hole

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How to Get There

6 days ago

Every time is an adventure!

I've been several times, taking new friends each time. While some of my friends are less "outdoorsy" than other, they all enjoy the hike and want to go back up with me the next time I go! It is a very popular area for locals as well as out-of-towners, so get their early and get going before everyone else is there :)

6 days ago

5 months ago

Beautiful Views!

I recommend arriving early during peak season as parking can be hard to come by. Trails are well marked and maintained, it's the hike you must do in the black hills!

5 months ago

7 months ago

Top Of The Dakotas!

We hiked this in the early spring when hardly any one else was on the path. It was a great time to do it and an amazing experience. I recommend taking the longer trail by the cathedral spires and little devil tower to add to the scenery. The peak gives a great 360 view and has awesome history behind the tower.

7 months ago

7 months ago


It isn't an easy hike, but my 8yr old managed it. The stairs at the end were pretty tall which made them more difficult. The pay off of the CCC castle with a look out tower at the top was more than worth it!

7 months ago

10 months ago

Fun Fact

Did you know that Harney Peak is the tallest peak in the continental United States east of the Rocky Mountains? Happy trails!

10 months ago

about 1 year ago

Harney Peak, fun trail with some unique features and great views.

I just moved to Rapid City, SD and did this hike over the weekend. The trail is well marked and maintained. It includes some cool spires and rock formations along the way. In addition to the awesome 360 degree view you get from Harney Peak, you also get a few good overlooks along the way. Important things to add to the original trip review. When parking at Sylvan Lake you have to pay a $15.00 day use pass. Also there's an amazing look out tower at the top of Harney Peak. It's well worth the the hike.

about 1 year ago

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