Community Caves: Short (And Steep!) | Black Hills Travel Blog

Community Caves: Short (And Steep!)

Tuesday, August 21, 2018
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Above the treetops and limestone walls of Spearfish Canyon rests a hidden wonderland of beauty and awe. Community Caves, also known as Wildcat Caverns, is less than a half-mile from the road below, but don't let the length fool you. The hike to Community Caves in Spearfish Canyon is moderately strenuous because of its steep ascent over loose rocks. Though this hike is not for the faint-hearted, its rewards are worth their weight in [Black Hills] gold. While neither climbing skills or extreme athleticism are required, this short hike can be technically challenging at times. Lace up your hiking boots, bring your camera and get ready for an adventure that most of the locals don’t even know about!


Getting to Community Caves:

From the mouth of the canyon, follow Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway (Hwy 14A) south approximately 2.7 miles from the turn off Colorado Blvd. This will put you at mile marker 13. Immediately after a curve, look for a large parking pull-off area on the right side of the road. From here, you'll cross the highway and begin to walk down the ditch to the creek below. (You should know, nothing about this hike is marked... finding it for the first time is half the battle!)

It's also good to note that there's the potential for your feet to get wet, so select your shoes accordingly. Test your balance skills as you traverse across the creek, hop-scotching from rock to rock. Once you've crossed the creek, continue hiking to the left and look for what will appear to be a game trail. Follow this trail (some bush-whacking may be required) until you reach a small boulder field where the trail will veer upward beside a small stream (from the waterfall) - this is where you will begin your ascent.

Take your time and move cautiously up the canyon. The rocks are loose and unstable, so you will need to be sure-footed with your movements. A walking stick may be helpful for some. Continue working your way up the path beside the small stream. My FitBit estimated the distance to the top to be less than a half-mile. When you've reached the top, the path will open up dramatically and you'll be surrounded by the unique features of Community Caves, with a delicate waterfall trickling down from above.


A steep scramble directly on the right of the formation allows you to explore the area above the waterfall. Another trail meanders up and further to the right of the formation. This loops around and gives an incredible view of the canyon and highway below. Stay and explore however long you desire, but when you're ready to head back down, remember the phrase, "Caution is key." Take your time and carefully zig-zag your way back down.


Note: This hike can be completed year-round with varying degrees of difficulty. In the wintertime, the summer's delicate waterfall transforms into a frozen palace of columns and chambers. Because of the ice, crampons are highly recommended. Moisture levels can also affect the difficulty of the hike.




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