OverviewLists of John Cement Ridge has 574 feet of prominence. The summit gives clear views of Crow Peak, Inyan Kara Mountain, Spearfish Peak, Terry Peak, Old Baldy Mountain, and Custer Peak, as well as views of Rattlesnake Canyon, Wagonwheel Canyon, and Wyoming's Grand Canyon.
Cement Ridge is a long mountain ridge, with the fire lookout at the northwest end of the ridge. The actual Crook County highpoint is further southeast on the ridge, at 6,674 feet. The area is managed by the Bearlodge Ranger District in Sundance, Wyoming. (307-283-1361)
Geologists will find igneous rock and limestone in abundance here. The summit is porphyry, with basal quartzites and shales elsewhere on the mountain. While the tower area at the actual summit is devoid of trees, not far away are numerous ponderosa pines. Aspens are in abundance not far down the slopes, as well as some birch and spruce, treating visitors to great color in the autumn. In the spring, the slopes are blanketed with wildflowers.
Because of the commanding view from the northwest part of the ridge, it was decided to establish a fire lookout. A log cabin was constructed on the summit in 1912, with a 2-story wooden tower added nearby in 1921. The summit was not vehicle accessible until 1927, when ranger Tom Sawyer brought his family up to the summit in a Model T Ford. Most of the broken trees seen on the peak resulted from a tornado during the early 1990s. The current lookout tower was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps from 1940-1941.
In 1993, the Cement Ridge Fire Tower was listed in the National Historic Lookout Register. However, this is one of eight Black Hills fire towers still manned during fire season each year. Visitors are welcome to view the tower. There is parking and vault toilets at the summit.
The most direct route from Spearfish is by taking road 134 (Tinton Road) south to the junction with road 105 (Wagon Canyon Road), then west until the junction with road 804. At 804, go north until you come to the junction with 850. Again, the 804/850 junction is a good place to start your hike to the summit.
Perhaps the most scenic route to get to Cement Ridge, is from Savoy, in Spearfish Canyon. Savoy is about 12 miles south of Spearfish, South Dakota through the very scenic Spearfish Canyon on Highway 14A. At Savoy, is a lodge and visitors center. There is a one-mile trail up to Roughlock Falls, and a 3/4 mile loop trail to 50-foot high Spearfish Falls. The whole area could merit a trip by itself, but well worth a stopover if you have time. From Savoy, travel west on road 222 to the junction with road 134, where you turn right or north. 222 and 134 will share roadway for a short distance. At the junction with road 105, go west until you come to road 804. On 804, go north until you come to road 850, where you will see a sign for the route to the summit. The hike to the summit and back is about 5 miles. Be aware that vehicles can use the road to reach the summit, and you may also encounter mountain bikers or horseback riders. There is a vault toilet at the summit.
If you prefer to travel from Sundance, Wyoming to take the hike, take Moskee Road (road 141) south (Exit 191 on I-90). Go east on road 875, then east on road 804 to the junction with 850.
RouteRoad 850 will give you access to both the highpoint and the fire lookout tower area. If you hike up from the junction of Roads 804 & 850, it is close to one mile to the junction with Cement Ridge Road (Road 222.1E in South Dakota). The true highpoint for Cement Ridge is almost due south up the slope from that road junction. That would be about a 1/4 mile bushwhack, with around 200 feet gain in altitude. If you want to go on to see the fire tower, it is about another mile up Road 850.
Please be aware there is some traffic on these roads at times. Most of that traffic is high clearance 4-wheel drives, dirt bikes, and ATV's. Also be aware that the roads here are closed during the winter snow season and are used instead for snowmobile trails, as part of the Black Hills Snowmobile Trail System.
MapsThe National Forest Service has free Motor Vehicle Use Maps for the Northern Hills Ranger District and the Bearlodge Ranger District. It is well worth the time to stop by a district office and pick up a free copy. You can get a copy at the office in Sundance, located at 101 S. 21st Street, or at the office in Spearfish, located at 2014 N. Main Street. Please remember that forest road numbers often change when you cross the border between Wyoming and South Dakota.
When to ClimbPlease be aware of weather conditions before you set out. Summer temperatures can reach 90 to 100 degrees, and late afternoon thunderstorms can produce some dangerous lightning. Tornadoes are rare, but obviously they can strike even at that altitude, as they have in the past. Blizzards in the northern hills can be lethal. For the latest area weather conditions and forecast, click here:
Cement Ridge - Sundance, Wyoming Area Weather
Red TapeThere are no permits or passes needed.
Resource and Camping LinksSundance, Wyoming Chamber of Commerce, (307) 283-1000
Spearfish, South Dakota Chamber of Commerce, (605) 642-2626
Deadwood, South Dakota Chamber of Commerce, (605) 578-1876
Beulah, Wyoming Camping and Lodging
Timon Campground, South Dakota
Sundance, Wyoming Campground