Hiking has numerous benefits: they provide a whole-body workout that builds stronger muscles and bones, they reduce stress and improve mental health and they allow for exploring beautiful mother nature, just to name a few. If you’re a fan of going on a trek, you’re in luck - the Black Hills, with their diverse terrain and stunning views, are a hiker’s paradise. And if you’re new to hiking, you won’t miss out on the fun - there are hiking trails of varying difficulty around every corner, making an afternoon hiking adventure a must for every nature lover’s itinerary.
Easy Hiking Trails
- Presidential Trail at Mount Rushmore
Located just nine minutes away from the Powder House Lodge, the Presidential Trail is a 0.6 mile loop that can be reached from the observation deck at Mt. Rushmore. Although this is a fairly easy trail, there are quite a few steps that can make the trail a little harder for some. However, there are benches located throughout the trail to take a breather and admire your surroundings.
Directions to the Presidential Trail from the Powder House Lodge: Take US-16A W and continue straight onto SD-244 W, turn right and continue to the trailhead.
- Sylvan Lake Shore Trail
Take in the incredible views of Sylvan Lake during this one-mile loop hiking trail, which offers a relatively flat path that will appeal to those looking for a leisurely stroll. This popular trail also offers stops for fishing, and is great for those with kids and dogs.
Directions to Sylvan Lake Shore Trail from the Powder House Lodge: Take US-16A E and merge onto US-16 W. Turn left onto US-16 W/US-385 S/E Main St., then left onto Railroad Ave. Turn left onto US-16 W/US-385 S/Main St. again, and then left onto SD-87 S. Follow SD-87 S to Sylvan Lake Shore Trailhead.
- Buzzards Roost
A popular hiking option near Rapid City, Buzzards Roost is a 2.2 mile loop that provides awe-inspiring views of the Black Hills in every direction. This is a great stop for a quick, easy hike while you’re out exploring all that the region has to offer!
Directions to Buzzards Roost from the Powder House Lodge: Follow US-16 E to Catron Blvd., turn right onto Sheridan Lake Rd., and a left onto SD-44 W/Jackson. Follow SD-44 W to Hisega Rd.
- Roughlock Falls Trail
Surrounded by the jaw-dropping beauty of Spearfish Canyon, Roughlock Falls Trail is a one-mile paved trail that is handicap accessible and perfect for those wanting an easy, scenic hike. The trail leads to the base of Roughlock Falls, which presents great photo opportunities.
Directions to Roughlock Falls Trail from the Powder House Lodge: Take Hwy 16A east to US-385 N. Turn onto Brownsville Rd., then left onto US-14 ALT W. Follow US-14 ALT W to Roughlock Falls Rd.
Moderate Hiking Trails
- Flume Trail
Stretching between Storm Mountain and Sheridan Lake, the Flume Trail offers a round-trip hike totalling 23.2 miles that allows you to explore the historic area that was used to transport water from Sheridan Lake to placer mines near Rockerville. Keep your eye out for tunnels and parts of the flume that are still visible!
Directions to Flume Trail from Powder House Lodge: Take US-16 W to US-385 N, then turn right onto Calumet Rd. Turn right onto Cavern Rd, and another right onto Bluewing Rd. Bluewing Rd turns into Pot Rustle Loop. Continue on Pot Rustle Loop to trailhead.
As the highest point east of the Rocky Mountains, Black Elk Peak is an essential stop for adventurers. The 7,242 foot tall peak holds much historical significance, with it being the site where the Lakota medicine man Black Elk had a vision of wise spirits. It also served as a fire lookout tower from the early 1900s through 1967. The summit of Black Elk Peak can be reached in two ways: from Sylvan Lake to the south, or from Willow Creek to the north. For an easier hike, take the Willow Creek route.
Directions to Black Elk Peak from Powder House Lodge: Take US-16A E and merge onto US-16 W. Turn left onto US-16 W/US-385 S/E Main St., then left onto Railroad Ave. Turn left onto US-16 W/US-385 S/Main St. again, and then left onto SD-87 S. Follow SD-87 S to Black Elk Peak.
- Cathedral Spires Trail
A gateway to some of the best climbing that the region has to offer, the Cathedral Spires Trail provides a close-up look at the unique geology that forms the Black Hills. The short 3.2 mile round-trip hike allows you to be surrounded by towering granite pillars, an experience you won’t soon forget!
Directions to the Cathedral Spires Trailhead from the Powder House Lodge: Take US-16A E and merge onto US-16 W. Turn left onto US-16 W/US-385 S/E Main St., then left onto Railroad Ave. Turn left onto US-16 W/US-385 S/Main St. again, and then left onto SD-87 S. Follow SD-87 S to Cathedral Spires Trailhead.
- Crow Peak Trail
Located near Spearfish, Crow Peak Trail is a seven mile round-trip journey to the summit of Crow Peak and back. The summit offers breathtaking, clear views of the Black Hills, including Terry Peak, Lookout Mountain and a particularly fantastic view of Bear Butte. After your hike, make sure to stop at the Crow Peak Brewing Company for a refreshing beer!
Directions to Crow Peak Trail from Powder House Lodge: Take US-16A E and merge onto US-16 W. Merge onto US-16 E to Rapid City. Turn left onto Omaha St. Turn right onto I-190 N and merge onto I-90 W, and take exit 8 for McGuigan Rd. Turn left onto Old Belle Rd, continue onto McGuigan Rd, and then take a right onto Hillsview Rd. Turn left onto Higgins Gulch Rd. and continue to the trailhead.
On the bucket lists of experienced backpackers and hikers from around the world, the 111 mile Centennial Trail begins at the top of Bear Butte and winds its way through the Black Hills National Forest. The trail offers a truly Black Hills experience, with portions of the trail crossing significant historical landmarks, as well as opportunities to encounter native wildlife, including antelope, deer, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, turkeys and more.
Directions for Quick Access to the Centennial Trail from the Powder House Lodge: Follow US-16A W, turn right on Old Hill City Rd.
Spanning 109 miles and containing 15 trailheads, the George S. Mickelson Trail originally served as the Burlington Northern rail line, which connected trains from Edgemont, SD to locations throughout the Black Hills. After being converted with the help of former Governor Mickelson, it became a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. There are still plenty of signs of the trail’s past along the way, including 100 railroad trestles that have been restored.
Directions for Quick Access to the George S. Mickelson Trail from the Powder House Lodge: Take US-16 W to Railroad Ave. in Hill City. Turn left onto Poplar St, which turns right and becomes S. Newton Ave. Follow S. Newton Ave. to the Burlington Northern Hill City Trailhead.
Make sure to pack plenty of water and snacks, wear layers and bring along a waterproof jacket to ensure you’re prepared for your Black Hills hiking adventure!