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Black Hills Overlook Trail

Black Hills Overlook Trail

Black Hills Overlook Trail

Page Type: Route

Location: Nebraska, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 42.69953°N / 103.02867°W

Object Title: Black Hills Overlook Trail

Time Required: Less than two hours

Route Quality: 
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Page By: panhandletrails

Created/Edited: Jul 31, 2009 / Jan 15, 2013

Object ID: 535463

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Fall colors at Chadron State Park
The Black Hills Overlook Trail runs across the top of this ridge.
The Black Hills Overlook Trail has to be the most scenic, but least understood trail in the park. Most people drive out to the Black Hills Overlook and hike from there east on the trail, usually no further than the junction with the Outrider Trail. This offers the most apparent vistas. However, the trail is actually a loop of about 4 miles. Most people miss the rest of the trail. State park officials have considered changing part of this loop, for the purpose of keeping the entire trail within the state park boundaries. The traditional route runs in small part, through national forest land. This is why it is a good idea to check with the park office for up-to-date information on changes, restrictions, or closures in the park. The office number is (308) 432-6167.

Getting There

To get to Chadron State Park, travel south of Chadron on Highway 385 about 8 miles, to Chadron State Park. It would probably help if you stopped at the state park headquarters and asked for a park trail map (free), plus any other questions you might have about trails, camping, or other facilities.

Route Description

Cave Near The Trail
This cave is located just to the south of the Black Hills Overlook Trail, less than 1/2 mile east of the Black Hills Overlook point.
From the park headquarters, take the right turn on the road loop and follow the loop to the turnoff for the camping loop. Follow that loop back to the tenting area and park in the parking lot there. There is a vault toilet there, which also is located next to one of the two trailheads for the hiking loop.

The trail will follow the course of a dry creek bed, which will become a walled canyon as you go upstream. You will pass a trail crossing as you go up the canyon. The trail on the left comes in from the other trailhead, located near the Pine Cone Butte Shelter. The trail on the right is the return portion of the loop you will be going on.

Continue up the canyon and enjoy the cool air and solitude. Eventually, you will come to a trail branch that will take you up the left side of the canyon wall. That trail will soon come out to an area that sometimes confuses hikers because the pathway spreads out and is lost in a meadow. But, by continuing on a south-southwest direction, you will come to a dirt road that will require you to walk north-northwest about 1.3 miles to the Black Hills Overlook point. There, you will pick up the narrow trail along the ridge top for about a mile. When you get to the junction of the Outrider Trail, go right back into the state park. The trail will take you back down into the canyon and eventually to the parking area.

Essential Gear

Unless you go during the winter, when your selection of gear would be dictated by how much snow was on the ground and how cold it was, you will need only what you would normally take on a 2 to 3 hour hike.

Suggestions would include water, appropriate shoes or boots, hat, hiking pole, sunscreen, tick repellent in the spring and early summer, compass, map, rain gear if the forecast is questionable, and a camera.

Resource Links

For more information, check out Chadron State Park's website at:
Chadron State Park

You may reach the park headquarters at: (308) 432-6167

You can download a state park map from the Chadron Wellness website at:

Chadron Wellness


Black Hills Overlook Trail canyon viewFall colors at Chadron State ParkCave Near The Trail