Black Hills National Forest
The Harney Range trail network is one of the most popular in the Black Hills, boasting 50 miles of trail and 14 trailheads. With 12 trails to choose from, you can plan a trip of an hour, a day or several days.
Within the 9824 acre Black Elk Wilderness, travel is limited to hiking and horses. The wilderness is named for Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man whose vision of peace and harmony is told in John Neihardt's book, Black Elk Speaks. The stone fire tower atop 7242-foot Harney Peak is a popular destination, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Expect heavy traffic on the trail, especially coming from Sylvan Lake.
Norbeck Wildlife Preserve was created in 1920 to protect the area's wildlife, including deer and elk, mountain goats, bighorn sheep and many small mammals and birds. Small streams offer excellent trout fishing. You can mountain bike in Norbeck, but not in the wilderness.
Some trails receive heavy use, including Trail 9 between Sylvan Lake and Harney Peak. If you want a less crowded trail, try one of these:
Norbeck Trail No. 3
Willow Creek-Rushmore Trail No. 5
Grizzly Bear Creek Trail No. 7
Willow Creek Loop Trail No. 8
Horsethief Lake Trail No. 14For a challenging hike, try the north end of Harney Peak Trail No. 9, which gains 2000 feet between the Willow Creek trailhead and the summit.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication