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  • Writer's pictureNoMadder WhereVan

Hiking Black Elk Mountain, South Dakotas Highest Peak

Black Elk Mountain is South Dakota's Highest Peak. It is an easy to moderate 7 mile loop with nonstop beauty from start to finish. The mountain is located in the heart of the Black Hills National Forest.


Training is always good. In our opinion you can't train enough. Our body's need it, but, with the Black Elk Mountain hike it is an easy trail, so, extreme training for this one isn't necessary. Water up, stretch, and warm your body up and you should be good to go.

The Trailhead

This hike begins and ends at the beautiful Sylvan Lake which should be on your list of stops if you're visiting the Black Hills anyway, even if you're not doing the hike. Here is the location of the Trailhead:

Being able to start and end this hike with such a beautiful view makes for a really special experience. Plus, you get to soak in the amazing waters of this lake when you make it back from a day of hiking. It is super cool.

The Adventure Begins

From the trailhead you are going to adventure up the mountain on trail 9 and come down the mountain on trail 4 to complete your 7 mile loop.

The trail starts easy and gets (at its best) to the low end of moderate towards the summit. There are SO many beautiful spots to stop and gaze at natures majesty that it'll be hard not to take your time hiking this mountain.

One of the things that blew our mind about this hike is: You can see the lookout off in the distance right at the beginning of the trail and it looks almost impossible to get to in 3.5 miles.

Things to Know

  • Start your journey early to beat the crowds and heat. This is a high traffic trail so expect some people out there.

  • Bring lots of water. There is a lot of exposure on the trail so if you get caught in the mid day sun you're going to need it. Please don't rush through the hike because of this. Just think of the lake you get to jump in when you're finished! 😁

  • Dogs are allowed on trail on leash.

  • Take your time! Enjoy the views! There are more beautiful vistas in this place than your eyes can handle. It is a really cool adventure you don't want to rush through!

If you are rolling through the Black Hills and you want to do a really cool hike we can do nothing but highly recommend this one. It is a super easy hike with visual payoffs out the whazoo.

As always safe travels, be adventurous, and pack it in pack it out!

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