OverviewLists of John, Castle Peak ranks #30 for Black Hills summits, and has 448 feet of prominence. Located about 25 miles west of Rapid City, the summit is on public lands managed by the Mystic Ranger District of the Black Hills National Forest (605-343-1567). The old wooden fire tower that stood at the summit for many years, was built around 1937. There used to be a cabin and garage by the tower that was used for living quarters for the ranger. Ironically, the fire tower was burned in 1964.
With binoculars, some of the major Black Hills peaks you can see from the summit, would include Harney Peak, Sylvan Peak, Hat Mountain, Crooks Tower (but only if you know where to look), Terry Peak, White Tail Peak, Flag Mountain, and Custer Peak.
For those traveling by way of Deerfield Lake, which would include those traveling from Rapid City or Hill City, access to Road 238 is about 10 miles from the South Rochford Road intersection with Deerfield Road.
As you travel up Road 238, please be aware you are in an area called “Myersville”. It shows up on some maps. The residents there make it very apparent they want no trespassing, and they have posted their own 5 MPH speed limit signs at the start of Road 238.
To reach the main route to the summit of Castle Peak, drive up Road 238 for about 1.4 miles. Avoid driving down intersecting roads, which would include 238.1N and 238.1B. You should come to a 3-way junction, with 238.1E as the right road, 238.1F as the left road, and 238.1A as the center road. The center road is your route. There are enough roads and junctions on and around Castle Peak, that taking the wrong one will waste your valuable time.
The series of photos below show the first, second and third road junctions.
RouteIt is only a little over 1 mile to hike to the summit from this 3-way road junction. The trail/road is well-defined with no junctions from this point to the summit, so it is very simple and straightforward from here on.
Please be aware there is occasional traffic to the summit, usually in the form of ATV’s. When you see how rough, narrow and steep the old fire tower road is further up, you will see why few people would attempt this “road” with a Jeep or SUV. But ATV’s seem to handle this fine.
One of the best maps for this area is the National Geographic Black Hills North Map. Also very helpful is the free Black Hills Motor Vehicle Use Map, available at all the forest service offices in the Black Hills.
Red TapeCastle Peak is on public land, managed by the National Forest Service. As long as you observe campfire and firearms regulations, you should have no problems on the public lands. Also, if you respect private property in the area, you should have no problems with the owners. Please be aware, though, that the area is used in season by hunters. Wearing orange when you hike during hunting seasons is wise.
When to ClimbThis area is open year around. But, like most summits, hiking during lightning storms or blizzards is not wise. Use your best judgment.
Castle Peak Campground
Castle Peak Campground on YouTube
Deerfield Lake, about 10 miles south, also has a variety of camping and lodging options. You can access their links below:
Deerfield Reservoir Complex
Mountain Meadow Resort at Deerfield Lake
Deerfield Beach Campgrounds
If you choose to do some back-country camping on National Forest Land, please be aware of their guidelines:
Black Hills National Forest Camping Regulations
Mystic Ranger District
8221 South Highway 16
Rapid City, SD 57702