Though both are located in the South Dakota Black Hills, this Old Baldy Mountain (6,096) is not to be confused with the Old Baldy Mountain (5,605) situated behind Mount Rushmore in Pennington County. According to Lists of John, Old Baldy Mountain has 240 feet of prominence, making it an unranked summit. Old Baldy is just two miles from the Wyoming state line and has a good view of Cement Ridge, the highest summit in Wyoming’s portion of the Black Hills. There is a clear view to the east from the summit of Old Baldy, and Terry Peak is the easiest mountain to identify.
Along the western portion of the loop are several old mineshafts. There are no obvious safety barricades, so the careful hiker will carefully consider the risks associated with deep pits and no rescue services nearby. Also located along the westernmost portion of the loop is Mathews Flag, a small summit approximately 6,130 feet high with a geodetic marker at the high point. There is no trail to that summit, so a short bushwhack and careful map study is necessary to accomplish this.
The Old Baldy trailhead is accessed from Tinton Road. If you take Tinton Road (FSR 134) from Spearfish, the distance is 13 miles. Or, if you prefer to travel through beautiful Spearfish Canyon and Little Spearfish Canyon, the distance for that route is around 21 miles. That route requires you to drive 14 miles from Spearfish on Highway 14, turn west at Savoy on Roughlock Falls Road (FSR 222) for 6 miles to Tinton Road, where you will turn right and follow Tinton for 1.1 miles to the trailhead, located on the north side of the road.
Route Information(Black Hills Trail 66). Forest service maps list the loop at 5.7 miles, with the spur being .7 mile in length. However, you will find books and other websites that list different numbers.
The forest service further complicates that with trail signs that also contradict their map distances. However, you can probably safely conclude that if you do the entire loop and the spur to the summit, your hiking distance will still be in the 7 to 8 mile range. The trailhead and Old Baldy’s summit are nearly the same altitude, but there is 234 feet drop to the two bridges on the loop.
One does not have to hike the trail for very long to realize there is frequent horse traffic on the route, plus stray cattle wandering through the forest and on the trails. Unless you do not mind gumming up your boot treads in the droppings, you will need to watch your footing carefully. Another problem with the horse traffic is encountered in low areas on and along the trail, where water collects and horse hooves churn the dirt into significant mud holes.
The forest service does a pretty good job of keeping the trail marked with signs and blazes, plus maintaining damaged stretches of trail. Of course, this is normally essential anywhere there is much horse traffic.
Red TapeNo permits or fees are required to hike Old Baldy. Careful observance of Black Hills National Forest Camping Regulations will keep you in the good graces of the forest service, should you choose to camp along the trail somewhere. Be sure to pack out what you pack in.
When to Climb
For the latest weather forecast and conditions, click on this link:
Old Baldy – Spearfish Area Forecast & Conditions
South Dakota big game hunting seasons in late fall may also be a concern, so be sure to wear plenty of bright orange if you choose to hike then. For more on the South Dakota hunting seasons, check out these resources:
South Dakota Hunting Season Information: State Dept. of Fish & Game.
South Dakota Hunting Seasons
The forest service also provides free trail maps for Trail # 66 in a small box at the trailhead. These small maps have some topographical markings and are drawn to scale. They include features like the two bridges encountered on the loop and the connection to the Rimrock Trail. The trail map also includes a location map and driving instructions, an elevation guide and general information.
Camping & Lodging Information
Rod & Gun Campground
Spearfish Area Campgrounds
Spearfish Canyon Lodge
Northern Hills Ranger District
2014 N. Main Street
Spearfish, SD 57783
Phone: (605) 642-4622