OverviewLists of John only designates the mountain as “3965”. With 370 feet of rise, it ranks #131 in the Black Hills for prominence. Devil’s Slide Mountain is not an official name on maps, but that is the name used by The Nature Conservancy and area residents. Most of the mountain is owned by The Nature Conservancy, which makes it open to the public a majority of the time.
The mountain is perhaps best described as a long, steep ridge that has many small outcroppings of rock. Past forest fires have eliminated most of the trees that once covered the mountain. Lack of cover probably inhibits some of the area mountain lions from visiting this mountain as often as they frequent the more-forested mountains in the area. But, deer are often seen here, as are occasional coyotes, foxes and porcupines. A large variety of birds can be seen on Devil’s Slide Mountain, with wild turkeys, vultures, hawks, owls and eagles being the most obvious. Because of the lower altitude and the warm, dry climate of the extreme southern Black Hills, rattlesnakes are in abundance here. Ticks are plentiful in the spring and summer, so caution is warranted for mild to warm weather hikes here.
The hike to the summit provides great views at all times, due to the scarcity of trees. The summit area requires a little rock scrambling, and when at the summit, one can easily see to Battle Mountain and the Seven Sisters Range highpoint to the north. There are also good views of Flagpole Mountain to the southeast and numerous canyons to the west and northwest. Though not high in altitude, Devil’s Slide Mountain offers a strenuous short hike with some great views of the area.
History of the Area
Development of the town began in 1888 at the north end of Devil’s Slide Mountain at the mouth of Alabaugh Canyon. Progress moved along at a rapid pace with construction of a large hotel, bank, post office, the Brainerd Indian School, homes and businesses. But greed killed the town as land owners refused land purchase offers from the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad, instead holding out for much higher prices that never came. When the railroad routed to Hot Springs instead, the town began dwindling away, with only 25 people left by 1900.
The Whitney PreserveWhitney Preserve, which is a part of The Nature Conservancy. It is only a few miles north of the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary. The size of the preserve is currently 4,383 acres, most of which is mountains and canyons. At the Visitors Center, located across the road from the north end of Devil’s Slide Mountain, a half-mile nature trail is open to the public. There are plans to expand that trail in the future.
There are not many hiking routes in the preserve, but with permission most of the area is open for exploration. The old roads through the preserve lend themselves to exploratory hikes. Hunting (in season) and bird watching are two popular activities at the preserve. Students of biology and environmental studies often visit the Whitney Preserve.
Whitney Preserve Map
Getting ThereThe best way to reach Devil’s Slide Mountain and The Whitney Preserve is to travel 10 miles south of Hot Springs on Highway 71. There is a major “S” bend in the highway that begins near the site of Cascade Springs and Keith Park. After passing the ghost town of Cascade, the best access to the mountain will be along the east side of the highway. There are several gates in the east side fence that allow safe parking off the highway.
The route shown on the map is about ½ mile long and is the best short bushwhack route to the summit. However, the rancher that contracts with the Whitney Preserve for cattle grazing rights in this area says that hiking in from the north, though longer, is less difficult. Besides watching for rocks to trip on and rattlesnakes, please be on the lookout for occasional strands of very old barbed wire, often at ground level and in the brush.
Red TapeAlmost all the land on Devil’s Slide Mountain is owned by the Nature Conservancy. It is best to check with their local official, Kelli Turner, for access permission. She can be reached at (605) 745-6990. Most of the time, there is no problem for hiking this mountain. The main exception will be hunting season closures.
When To Climb
Cascade Springs – Devil’s Slide Mountain – Angostura Lake Area Weather
Hot Springs Area Camping & Lodging
Angostura Reservoir Camping
Cascade Area Information Links
Cascade Springs, Creek and Falls
Cascade Falls has great natural outdoor swimming, a picnic area and restrooms. The whole area was recently re-modeled. There are some steep stairways down to the falls and swimming area. Poison ivy is in abundance near the creek and rattlesnake warning signs are plentiful. Caution is warranted. For more details for the Cascade Falls Picnic Area, you can visit this Forest Service site:
Cascade Falls Picnic Grounds
MapsDevil’s Slide Mountain lies in the Cascade Springs Quad. The Black Hills South map, published by National Geographic, is an excellent map for the area, as is the Black Hills National Forest Map, sold at forest service offices in the area. If you are exploring any of the national forest lands in the area, the national forest service office in Hot Springs offers a free Motor Vehicle Use Map for the Black Hills National Forest.
Fall River Ranger District
1801 Highway 18
Hot Springs, SD 57747