A view of Crow Peak from Cement Ridge Lookout in Wyoming
There seems to be little disagreement among hikers that Crow Peak is one of the best hikes in the Black Hills. According to Lists of John
, Crow Peak is #6 in Black Hills for prominence, at 920 feet. The actual elevation gain from the trailhead to the summit is approximately 1,600 feet over the 3 ½ mile length of the trail. Unlike many Black Hills summits, that use old roads for summit trails, motorized vehicles are not allowed on this trail. You might meet other hikers, trail runners, mountain bikers, or horseback riders on the Crow Peak Trail.
Crow Peak was originally named “Paha Karitukateyapi” by the Sioux tribe, which means “the hill where the Crows were killed”, giving it a similar name origin as Crow Butte, 150 miles south in Nebraska. In both cases, the Crow tribe lost major battles with the Sioux tribe.
Crow Peak Trail
Because of its prominence, Crow Peak dominates the western skyline of Spearfish, South Dakota. From the summit, hikers are treated to views of the Bearlodge Mountains in Wyoming, the plains of southeast Montana, Terry Peak, Spearfish Mountain, Citadel Rock, Lookout Mountain, Cement Ridge, Sundance Mountain, Polo Peak, Crook Mountain and Bear Butte. About 2/3 of the way to the summit, there is a branch in the trail. The Beaver Ridge Spur Trail is about 1/2 mile long, and treats hikers to some great views to the west. The trail is well-marked with posts and blazes. During summer months, one normally encounters at least several other hikers along the trail. But, heavy traffic on the trail is not normal. Hiking is moderately strenuous.
Forest fires in 2012 damaged Crow Peak severely. In October of 2013, Winter Storm Atlas caused widespread damage to the forests and trails throughout the Black Hills. In 2014, work had progressed to the point that the Forest Service stated trail use was back to normal.
To get to Crow Peak from Spearfish, hikers should take Higgins Gulch Road, Forest Service Road 214. About 7 miles from Spearfish, there is a small parking area along the west side, where you will find the trailhead. Not visible from the road, is the trailhead sign, which is just 20-30 yards from the parking lot.
Crow Peak Summit Trail View West
For more route information, please check out the SummitPost route page, with map link, by clicking here:
Crow Peak Trail
For a Crow Peak downloadable trail brochure from the National Forest Service, click here:
Crow Peak Downloadable PDF Brochure
There are no fees or permits needed. It is all on public land, so landowner permission is not an issue. As mentioned, motorized vehicles are not allowed on the trail.
For any new national forest restrictions, call: Northern Hills Ranger District in Spearfish at: (605) 642-4622
When to Climb
Severe storms can develop quickly in this area. To avoid dangerous lightning or winter blizzards, please be sure you have an up-to-date weather forecast. You can access the latest weather by clicking here:
Crow Peak – Spearfish Area Weather
A good map for the area is the National Geographic Black Hills North map. It will also be to your advantage to obtain a free Motor Vehicle Use map for the Northern Hills and Bearlodge Mountains. You can get a copy at any forest service office in the region.
Camping & Lodging
Summit view of Spearfish and Bear Butte
Camping is available in nearby Spearfish. The Spearfish Chamber of Commerce has the latest information for local camping available, and can be reached at (605) 642-2626.
You can also access more on area camping by clicking on a link below:
Where To Stay in the Spearfish Area
Black Hills National Forest Camping in the Spearfish Area
More Information LinksNational Forest Page on Crow Peak
South Dakota Magazine Article on Crow Peak
YouTube Feature on Crow Peak