Flannigan Butte is a fun hike for anyone who wants a 3 to 5 mile hike with some incline to go with it, plus panoramic views of the surrounding area. It commands a splendid view of the Black Hills 50 miles to the north, as well as the Nebraska National Forest and an assortment of buttes, canyons, and ridges to the east and to the west. Chadron State Park is less than two miles away, and features many good hiking trails. There is no official trailhead, even though Flannigan Butte is on public land. So, hikers must either hike or drive a mile from the highway to a private property fence line and gate. If they have not received permission to use the mile-long two-track roadway through the private property to the other side, they will have to go a few hundred yards north along the fence to where it turns and goes straight west. Hikers can then follow the fence for one mile, at which point they will be less than one-half mile from the butte. At that point, the hike is pretty much an off-trail hike, but easy to make your own route up the east side. Though quite steep, the east side is the easiest route up, as the other sides have mostly sheer soft rock walls. The entire hike takes one through forests, small ravines, and some open pasture land.
FIRE DAMAGE WARNING: The great forest fires of September 2012 swept across Flannigan Butte and caused extensive damage. This land is managed by the U.S. Forest Service. Please consult them before trying to access this summit. There will certainly be some falling tree risks for several years.
To get to the turnoff for hiking Flannigan Butte, go south from Chadron 7 1/2 miles on Highway 385. There will be an old road on the right, going west, with few markings. But, the road almost immediately splits, with the left branch going to the nearby farm, and the right branch labeled 739, and going up a hill in a westerly direction. US Forest Service maps show the road going through their section marked 24A. Finding the turnoff road should not be too difficult, since there are no other roads in the immediate area that exit to the west.
Flannigan Geodetic Marker
If you choose to use all public lands for your access, there should be no red tape. If you want to try to get permission from the property owner who owns the second mile of road access, you should contact the forest service office for the latest contact information. You can reach them at: (308)432-0300. The property owner has been favorable to allowing hikers use the property, provided they close the gates. That access could be lost in the future, if the priveledge is not respected.
Chadron State Park is "right next door" to Flannigan Butte, and has great facilities for tenters, trailers, and motor homes, plus cabins and dorms for rent. They also have a swimming pool, tennis courts, fishing, hiking trails, and horseback riding. You can reach the park office at: (308)432-6167.
Ticks are abundant in this region from early March through August. A good insect repellent is recommended. Rattlesnakes are in the area, but not seen often. Mountain lions are also in the region, but very rarely seen. Should you choose to attempt to climb a rock face, please bear in mind the soft and unstable nature of the rock. Lightning can get pretty intense in area storms, so please do not take unnecessary risks.
Camping and Resource Links
Nearby Chadron State Park offers the best camping in the area, and nearby Chadron offers lodging, meals, supplies, and the National Forest Service office.