Black Hills National Forest

Hiking Crow Peak Trails

Massive Crow Peak dominates the northern Black Hills landscape near Spearfish. The Crow and Lakota tribes reportedly fought a battle here. The Lakota name, "Paha Karitukateyapi"" is an English translation for "the hill where the Crows were killed."

This is a challenging trip, climbing 1600 feet in just over 3 miles. From the summit you'll have a 360 degree, three-state view including the Bearlodge Mountains in Wyoming, the plains of southeast Montana and northwest South Dakota, and the nearby Spearfish Valley.

Location: Trailhead is approximately 7 miles southwest of Spearfish on Higgins Gulch Road, Forest Road 214
Length: Crow Peak: 3.5 miles one way; Beaver Ridge Spur Trail: 0.5 miles one way
Elevation: 4200 to 5,760
Difficulty: More Difficult

The Crow Peak Trails are designed to allow hikers and horsebackers to access the top of Crow Peak and the north end of Beaver Ridge. They are not designed or maintained for mountain biking.

Geologists call Crow Peak an igneous intrusion, formed by hot magma pushing up into the overlying sedimentary rock layers millions of years ago. Billions of years ago, this area was covered by an ocean. Layers of sediments were deposited on the ocean floor, eventually hardening to form limestone and other sedimentary rock layers.

Underground molten rock called magma, pushed the sedimentary layers upward forming hills. During the uplifting, crevasses within the limestone hills filled with magma. These flows of magma, called intrusions, cooled to form igneous rock.

The limestone and other sedimentary rock erodes at a faster rate than the harder igneous rock. As the ocean receded, the overlying sedimentary rock eroded, exposing the igneous intrusions. Crow Peak and other peaks you can see from the Crow Peak summit, such as Bear Butte, Spearfish Peak and Terry Peak were formed in this manner. Erosion of this igneous rock and the sedimentary rock surrounding these peaks continues to shape the landscape of the Northern Black Hills.


Maintained trails on the forest are marked with blazes and Brown fiberglass posts. Blazes are in the form of "i" either cut into the bark of pine trees or painted on redwood signs. Brown fiberglass posts are used where there are no trees.

Drinking water is available at most of the campgrounds but not along trail routes. Each trail user should carry at least 2 quarts of water or more.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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