A view from the top | Black Hills Travel Blog

A view from the top

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Savoy from the canyon rim623

Today in the Black Hills we're bracing for a major winter storm, but it was just a few short weeks ago that the fall colors were in their full glory. We got a great reminder of the colors this morning from the folks out at Spearfish Canyon Lodge.

They sent us the photo shown above, which was taken by hiker Craig Mickelson this fall. There are several different routes you can take to get a view similar to this from the rim of Spearfish Canyon.

One of the shortest, but probably more technical routes to the rim is from an area known as 11th Hour Gulch. Just north of the lodge a few miles are two enormous boulders touching each other in Spearfish Creek. They are each about the size of a small house and are called the "kissing rocks."

Directly across the road from the kissing rocks is a well-worn hiking trail that leads into 11th Hour Gulch, and eventually up to the rim of the canyon. There is some serious scrambling required up and over rocks, trees and even man-made ladders, but the view from the top is well worth the effort.

A much less technical, but longer path to the canyon rim is is the '76 trail up to a lookout area called Buzzard's Roost. The '76 trailhead is just across from the Spearfish Canyon Lodge parking lot. It is 3/4 of a mile to the lookout area and ascends 1,000 feet from the canyon floor up to the top. The '76 trail is quite steep in places, but can be completed by most hikers.

With the exception of a few private property areas, most of the canyon is public forest service land, so you can literally park your car and start hiking. Between all of the crystal clear streams and the constantly eroding limestone cliffs, Spearfish Canyon is an absolute mecca for hikers. Get out and explore it - there are beautiful views just waiting to be found.

About the Author

Joe is a resident of Spearfish, S.D. He grew up in the tall-corn state of Iowa, where he developed an early interest in all things outdoors. After high school he moved to Vermillion, S.D., where he earned his bachelor’s degree in public relations and advertising.

During his college years, two things caught his attention: the beauty of western South Dakota’s Black Hills and a girl from those Black Hills. After graduating from college, Joe traveled across the country as a recruiter for the University of South Dakota. He saw the sights from Pittsburgh to Las Vegas and everywhere in between, but it was the Black Hills (and the girl) that kept drawing him back.

He and wife moved back to the Black Hills in 2008. He's an avid hiker, mountain biker and road cyclist whose future plans include trying to fit a pair of kayaks into the spare bedroom.

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