OverviewHigh Plains Homestead, and The Drifters Cookshack. In one relatively small area, hikers can traverse through ponderosa pine forests, steep walled canyon areas, and stunning rock formations. Add to that, the area is rich in fossils and a wealth of collectible rocks and crystals. There are two good routes to reach the summit of Roundtop. Hikers can park at Toadstool Geologic Park, then take the 3-mile Bison Trail toward the Hudson Meng site. Shortly after coming out of the canyon, hikers will cross a prairie 2-track road. At the road, hikers should turn left and hike southeast toward Roundtop, which will be easily visible. Shortly before reaching the forested upper north slope of Roundtop, hikers will approach Cedar Canyon on the left. Caution should be taken about standing too close to the edge, as the sides are not very stable and it is a very long drop down. The road will soon curve almost straight south, exposing several clear off-trail access routes to reach the summit. The smaller summit to the right (west) is Pine Butte. Roundtop's summit offers great views of the Black Hills 30 miles to the north, the Pine Ridge forests and buttes to the west and south, and prairie to the east. If one prefers a shorter route to the top, they can park by the entrance to Hudson-Meng and take the pasture road that runs due east. The hike that way is only about one mile to Roundtop.
If you are feeling energetic, you can also hike to the summit of Pine Butte, then go on further west-southwest and hike to the summit of Wright Peak. Eagle Eye Rock is not too much further south for those with boundless energy.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: All four summits mentioned above, were burned in the great forest fires of 2012. Roundtop was the least damaged of the four, and should be the first to be ready for visitors - perhaps as early as the summer of 2013. Please check with the U.S. Forest Service for their recommendations.
Red TapeAll the land is public, so park entrance permits/fees will be your only costs. Hudson-Meng charges a fee to see their bison kill site building, if one wants to stop for that. Visitors to the area need to remember that it is illegal to remove fossils from the park, but there is no law against photographing them.
Camping and Lodging
CautionsThough very scenic, the greatest number of cautions are focused around the Bison Trail. After any significant precipitation, the bed on the Bison Trail gets very slick in spots where the surface is clay. And there are deep pockets of soft sand that turn into the consistency of quicksand with enough water. There are rattlesnakes in the area. And there are rare sightings of mountain lions also. Ticks are a problem from early March through August. For those using the Bison Trail to reach Roundtop in the heat of summer, plenty of water is extremely important. Reflection from the almost white surface in many places, creates very hot conditions in the bottom of the canyon.
Camping and Resource LinksThe city of Crawford has camping, lodging, food and supplies. Click here to access their website for up-to-date information:
Crawford Chamber of Commerce
Nearby Fort Robinson also has extensive camping and lodging facilities: Click here to access their site: