Black Elk Peak / Harney Peak Climber's Log

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thenaturalmedic - Oct 10, 2023 9:29 am Date Climbed: Oct 4, 2023

Top of South Dakota and the Black Hills!  Sucess!

To say this is a popular hike is an understatement! I got to the parking lot about an hour or two later than I wanted. The overflow lot was about half full at this point. A big group of veterans was prepared to go up and I got ahead of them slightly, lucky for me. They eventually caught up to me on the trail. Lots of birds, chipmunks, and squirrels but no larger animals were seen due to heavy trail traffic I imagine. It took me just under 2 hours to reach the top. There were a lot of folks up top in the tower and the surrounding area. I spent a decent amount of time at the top but would like to return someday when it's less busy if that is possible at all. Make sure to bring warm layers for the top it was pretty cold and windy on this early October day. Hiked up Trail 9 and down Trail 4 made for a nice loop. For the sake of time did not visit Little Devil's Tower and would like to someday. Overall 7.5 miles round trip including my extended time up top took about 5 hours round trip. Prob could have done the entire hike in under 3 if I pushed it. Full video on my YouTube @thenaturalmedicadventures coming soon!

Brian Jenkins

Brian Jenkins - Sep 6, 2023 10:30 pm Date Climbed: Sep 2, 2023

cool  Sucess!

Up trail 9, down 4. Really cool unique place. Just recommend not doing it on a 92 degree day when it's a holiday weekend and there are about 1500 people all around.


LazyJSkwires - Aug 27, 2023 2:47 am Date Climbed: Aug 26, 2023

Perfect day for it  Sucess!

Came up from Willow Creek, highly recommend if you want to avoid the crowds. Saw five people total on the same route. It was sunny and 70 degrees at the top, would have stayed longer but had a long way to drive.


Hyadventure - Jul 4, 2023 5:44 pm Date Climbed: Jun 5, 2023

Fun Hike  Sucess!

Loved this hike!! stretched it out to about 10 miles.


Jim_The_Kid7 - Oct 19, 2022 4:04 pm Date Climbed: Oct 1, 2022

Black elk loop with little devils Tower  Sucess!

Gorgeous day

hhuttner27 - Sep 5, 2022 5:34 pm

Harald Huttner  Sucess!

I've hiked 32 of the high points and this was my overall favorite. Moderate to a bit difficult. Perfect length, nice path overall, easy to follow and the scenery was unreal. Awesome!

Humpty Dumpty - Aug 5, 2022 11:29 pm Date Climbed: Aug 4, 2022

Black Elk Peak  Sucess!

Number 11! Not the highest, but one of my best climbs


Bkoziol3 - Jul 30, 2022 10:22 am Date Climbed: Sep 3, 2020

High Point  Sucess!

hot and dry day

zacharydebruine - Jul 29, 2022 3:23 pm Date Climbed: Jul 29, 2022

With 5yo in jogging stroller till last staircase  Sucess!

Kid in jogging stroller made an easy hike hard.
Beautiful views, Sylvan Lake approach on trail #9.

David Mortensen

David Mortensen - Jun 13, 2022 8:54 am Date Climbed: Jun 11, 2022

Black Elk  Sucess!

This was a very scenic hike. The rock formations (needles) were visible throughout as well as lots of panoramic views of the Black Hills. I hiked this with Melissa.


one6180339 - Mar 13, 2022 3:21 pm Date Climbed: Sep 3, 2020

solo summit  Sucess!

Started from Willow Creek horse camp at 8:30 and did not see another person until half way thru my descent. Being a Thursday and having the south side trail closed certainly helped. It was awesome having the peak entirely to myself.

Woodie Hopper

Woodie Hopper - Sep 13, 2021 4:39 pm Date Climbed: Sep 13, 2021

Sylvan Lake TH loop  Sucess!

Mellow trail. Interesting rock formations and pretty country. Went faster than expected: 1:40 RT including a short climb of Little Devils Tower.


tudge - Aug 16, 2021 1:04 pm Date Climbed: Aug 15, 2021

Perfect August Morning  Sucess!

Fantastic solo hike on a summer morning. Left a mostly empty trailhead parking lot around 6:30 AM. Up trail #9 and down #4. Gorgeous views from the top where I chatted with the few other early birds. So glad I stopped by while passing through the Black Hills.


JesseSumrak - Jul 17, 2021 3:32 pm Date Climbed: Jul 15, 2021

Custer State Park Loop  Sucess!

Did the first part with the family. Sylvan Lake was packed, so we had to park a bit away and hike over to start up Trail #4 to Little Devils Tower. I had our 1.5-year old in the carrier for the first 2 miles to the saddle for Little Devils Tower, and I left the family there to run up and bag the peak. Fun little scramble up there. Reports say Class 3, but I'd say 2+. No exposure with any moves, and your hands are more for just balance. Great rock, so no problem on the descent either. Only had to crab walk 2 short sections. Family headed back down Trail #4 to go hangout at Sylvan Lake while I continued on north and west to connect Blak Elk Peak. Wonderful trail with beautiful views of the Cathedral Spires. Harney Tower was great at the peak, but it was a bit crowded, so I went and hungout more on nearby McGillicuddy Peak. Bombed down the Trail #9 after that for a quick 4-hour loop of the 3 peaks. Great day!


runbyu1 - Jan 14, 2021 3:41 pm Date Climbed: Sep 12, 2020

Black Elk Peak Loop FKT  Sucess!

Legs were still pretty heavy from Devil's tower speed less than 2 days ago. Hit the first loop at Lactate Threshold, but did stop on top for a bit, and also 3x on the way down, missing turns or trying to navigate. Second time up to the summit was at MAF, met the girls less than a half mile from the top. Hiked down with or carrying Journey. Might be my favorite actual summit of any mountain anywhere.


Tonka - Nov 30, 2020 8:00 am Date Climbed: Sep 3, 2020

You can't get there from here.   Sucess!

Upon entrance to Sylvan Lake we were told the trail was closed just below the summit for trail work and we could not get there from Sylvan Lakes but we tried anyway and were turned around not to far from where Sylvan and Willow meet. We tried a more direct, off trail, route but the trail boss saw us and guilted us in to turning around.

Sylvan was open the following day but since we had done almost all of it we did the peak from the Willow Creek side and glad we did. The Sylvan lake trail would have been a non stop conga line while we were one of a maybe 4 groups taking the longer route. Fun, nice day.


themnkid - Oct 18, 2020 4:23 pm Date Climbed: Oct 15, 2020

October Climb  Sucess!

Utilized trail #9 up and trail #4 down. 28 degrees and colder than expected in October. Great hike.


tehbea5t - Oct 3, 2020 5:39 pm Date Climbed: Oct 3, 2020

#9 RT  Sucess!

Goes quick

Kyle Van Vleet

Kyle Van Vleet - Sep 15, 2020 3:23 pm Date Climbed: Jun 6, 2014

Gotta love the Blackhills.   Sucess!

Did this one along time ago on a whim. Great views of the entire Blackhills from up top!

WIHighPointer - Sep 7, 2020 5:07 pm Date Climbed: Sep 7, 2020

HP #10, Black Elk Peak, SD, 1st HP in Snow  Sucess!

Snow began at 6,700', spent two hours in rain and six hours in falling snow and the final 45 minutes in the dark, it was a great time. Last person to leave the TH parking lot. I used the south trail up (Trail 4) and north trail (Trail 9S) down.
Slippery but beautiful. Did not attempt to find the USGS marker in the falling snow.
Was surprised to find masked hikers at 6,500' hiding on side of trail. I was not expecting people with a serious respiratory disease to be hiking at high elevations, in thinner air, where it is naturally more difficult to breathe. The hills and wilderness are where I find pandemic safety.

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