Eric Willhite you have got to be kidding me. Is there any peak I can climb without you first being there? ha ha Took a girl along with me, whose previously long hike was 4.5 miles, also done with me. Felt she was prepared enough. Knocked Harney out!! Great hike with fantastic views! Loved to get to know an area of the country I had no interest in visiting.
We walked up from Sylan Lake on August 1st, 2005. We ascended by Trail #9 and descended by #4.
I had heard that this is an extremely popular hike, and experience bore this out. We started before 8:00 AM, but nonetheless wound up sharing the peak with a considerable crowd, greatly augmented by a school group. Though some of the kids were far more interested in their cell phones than in their surroundings, they really didn't bother us too much. Among the unschooled were some highpointers on their way to White Butte in North Dakota, not long before having visited Mt. Rogers in Virginia, which they highly praised. (There were some murmerings about other parts of the Southeast, but, since I'm from Alabama and am already painfully aware of what that State has done to Mt. Cheaha, we left the Heart of Dixie alone.)
Trail #9 offers a very gradual ascent through ponderosa pine forests, latterly much damaged by beetles, with patches of aspen here and there. The famous multilith'ed shouldering of Harney's Peak was not much in evidence till we were right on the summit, though there were occasionally good views of the top and its attendant heights, from various openings in the forest. Total elevation change over the approximately 3 mile trip was about one thousand feet.
Most striking, once eastern exposure is gained, are the views of the blessedly un-vandalized BACK of Mount Rushmore. What a beautiful rock! We used to get in real trouble for carving on desks - what in the world induced the State of South Dakota and Uncle Sam to let that rogue Buglum dynamite a live mountain? (And now some other vandal is tearing up another mountain (fortunately not visible from Harney's Peak), ostensibly to honor the stalwart patriot Crazy Horse, who wisely refused to allow himself to be photographed!)
An unwonted humidity had arrived by the time we descended the #4 trail, which skirts the great Cathedral Spires before dropping somewhat steeply to a series of meadows below the "Little Devil's Tower", which really does resemble its namesake in Wyoming, at least from Harney's Peak.
All in all, a pleasant walk, in spite of the crowds. But the ascent up that northern lead sure did look interesting, from Hill City. And NOBODY seemed to be coming or going that way. I thing we'll take that route next time.
I DID take the loop route up Harney Peak the following September, on a hot day in the Badlands. Met no one on the west part of the loop going up, and a few people on the east side coming down, and had a very pleasant conversation with a local gentleman about a number of things, among them the virtues of various forms of water provision while day hiking (we were both opposed to tube-and-bladder assemblies, among other points). I'd recommend the north route - a little bit more of a work-out, much more forested (fewer vistas of course), and there are just too many people on the south route, though, as I said, most are fairly well-behaved.
Great place to be early in the morning watching the sun rising over the Badlands.
This was my 2nd state highpoint. We took the Harney Peak #9 Trail from Sylvan Lake to the top. Very good hike.
Great place, responsible for my desire to climb.
First climbed Harney when I was 7 years old. Usually climb Harney about once a month or so. Have summited from Willow Creek, Sylvan Lake, Little Devils Tower, up the east from Iron Mountain Road and straight up the west side, off the trail. Favorite time to climb is in Feburary. All three main trailheads closed for 2009-2010 winter due to pine beetles.
I was working for the Forest Service in Sundance WY and thought it would be fun to hike to the top of SD..... I don't remember much, but I think I have pictures somewhere. Maybe I'll scan and post one day!
This is really a great hike for a wide range of abilities. Views are beautiful and I recommend it.
Took the trail up from Sylvan Lake and topped out without too much trouble. I had broken my leg 3 months earlier so I wasn't sure how I would do going up but was far enough into recovery that I made it without too much difficulty. Awesome views!
Looped from Little Devils Tower Day use area back to Sylvan lake. Great hike, great weather. HP#2
I've probably climbed this 3-4 times since I was young and it never gets boring. I'm most familiar with the Sylvan Lake trail, but I'm planning on doing the Willow Creek horse Camp trail this fall and also a early morning hike to catch the sunrise on the summit. Just a few items on my South Dakota To-do-list!
great hike!! Even with the crowds and the bikers still very enjoyable
I hiked up the Sylvan Lake Trail with fellow CMCers Karen, Jason and Al. Harney Peak is a very scenic and enjoyable hike. This is my 29th state HP and the first of three during this trip. We clmbed Granite Peak next and then White Butte.
We took a day after visiting my parents-in-law near Sioux City, to drive across S. Dakota to visit a friend and my sister-in-law in Rapid City, and spend the night there before driving home to Salt Lake. On the way we managed to visit my father-in-law's paleontology lab in Vermillion, drive the Badlands loop, and meet a friend for a late lunch in Rapid City, and finished the day with a spontaneous sundown hike of Harney Peak. I'm really glad I was able to squeeze in the chance to see the Black Hills on foot.
We hiked up the lightly traveled trail 4 from Sylvan Lake, stopping near the Cathedral Spires on the way up to climb some smaller rock formations. While enjoying the summit views, we were surprised to see a mountain goat near the summit. On the return hike, we took the spur trail to the top of Little Devil's Tower. This is a beautiful area. HP22
This was my first high-pointer west of the Mississippi, in the first couple weeks of a 3 1/2 month cross-country trip! Great short hike, great views, great area! Custer is one of my favorite state parks.
Highpointed along with ND, IA, and OK on a one week road trip.
Drove into Hill City from KC the night before climbing Harney. That was a 12-hour trip in cold rain, but by the time I hit the Sylvan Lake Trail, it was shaping up to be a beautiful clear day in the high 50s. Trail was snow-packed and icy as I went up, and a slushy, muddy mess on the descent. Great views all around!
A very fun hike in the snow. Did it in 3 hours RT with lots of snow on the trail, after doing some climbing in the Needles. Very cool view.
Walked up there with my dad on brother on our trip across the US. Passed Little Devils Mtn on the way. Nice little roundtrip