OverviewLists of John, Parker Peak has 683 feet of rise, ranking it #13 in the Black Hills for prominence. The nearly flat summit area commands a sweeping view of the southern black Hills, which is why there was a fire tower there for a number of years. Peaks identifiable from the summit, include Harney Peak, Sylvan Peak, Mount Coolidge, and Battle Mountain to the north, Matias Peak to the west, and Horse Trap Mountain to the east. This area is part of the Black Hills National Forest. The Custer office (605-673-9200) is actually supervising this area, even though the Hot Springs office is closer. Many years ago, this area was more heavily forested, but fires have eliminated whole sections of that forest, ironically including the slopes of Parker Peak itself. The dead timber on the rocky slopes makes hiking up a slow and sometimes tedious process, especially on the western side.
Geologically, Parker Peak is interesting for fossils and some unusual small rock formations. The surrounding landowners have had to contend with trespassers searching for fossil cycads, ever since the nearby Fossil Cycad National Monument was plundered. Most of the rock in the mountain is limestone, shale, or sandstone.
The Parker Peak Fire Tower
Getting ThereParker Peak is just to the east of Highway 18. From Hot Springs, travel south on highway 18 for about 14 miles and you will be on the west side of Parker Peak. From Edgemont, travel north on Highway 18 for about 10 miles to reach Parker Peak. The County Road 185 intersection will give you a good place to get off the highway and go to the location you have obtained permission to access the mountain.
Red TapeThere are no restrictions to be on the summit, since it is national forest land. But, you will need private landowner permission to cross to that public land (see below).
The old access road for the fire tower is on the east side, out of sight of the highway. Of course, you can’t count on using that unless that is the side whose owner you are able to obtain crossing permission. If you have checked maps of Parker Peak, you will have noticed that the Mickelson Trail runs right in front of the mountain. While the trail is for public use, unfortunately there is still private property between the trail and the mountain.
Fall River County Landowner Map
It may take you a little practice to get used to the zoom in and out features, but it will reveal who the current owners are. Of course, you will need a topo map to coordinate with the landowner map. Googling for the owner’s phone number is normally sufficient to give the desired result. A few hikers have tried just going to the front door of the ranch house nearby to ask permission. I would not recommend a long trip just for this peak alone, based on the assumption they would say yes. But, if you are hiking other places in the area, like Matias Peak or Red Canyon, that approach might be worth a try.
When To ClimbAssuming you have private landowner permission, weather will be your only other consideration. For the latest area forecast, click the link below:
Parker Peak – Edgemont Area Weather
Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce Camping & Lodging
Angostura Lake Camping
800 Second Avenue
Edgemont, SD 57735