Cathedral Spires & Little Devils Tower

Cathedral Spires & Little Devils Tower are two great hikes in South Dakota with open fields, rock scrambling and dramatic mountain views.

Cathedral Spires
Little Devils Tower

Facts To Remember


Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 5 miles round trip / approx 3 hours
Elevation Gain: 500 feet
Starting Elevation: 6,100 feet
When To Hike: Year Round
Permits: Park Fee Required
Pets Allowed: Yes
Starting Location:  2.5 miles East of Sylvan Lake on Needles Highway
Time of Year: June, 2020

Parking and Getting There

The parking area is next to Sylvan Lake. There is plenty of parking spaces and overflow area but likely fills up fast on busy weekends. Fantastic area to picnic, enjoy the water and hike.

We hike to Cathedral Spires using Trail #4 and took the trail to Little Devils Tower before reaching Cathedral Spires. The views from Little Devils Tower were amazing with views of the Stone Fire Lookup Tower at the top of Harney Peak aka Black Elk Peak.

Hiking to Cathedral Spires

Sylvan Lake is the start of many really nice hikes. Today we hiked to Cathedral Spires and Little Devils Tower.

The beginning of the trail is very open with the path slowly going uphill and eventually crossing additional trailhead parking.

More Scenery Along the Trail

Trail to Little Devils Tower

The trail splits here and goes to Little Devils Tower or Cathedral Spires. We went to the Little Devils Tower then came back here to continue to the Spires.

The hike up to Little Devils Tower does require some rock scrambling. We didn’t think it was too bad but it definitely requires some attention as there are plenty of dropoffs.

Stone Fire Lookup Tower in Distance

The tower on top of Black Elk Peak aka Harney Peak can be seen from Little Devils Tower. Super windy up here!

Hopefully we will be hiking to Black Elk Peak in a day or two.

Shiny Rocks

Very interesting rocks that really glimmer when the sun hits them just right.

Entering Cathedral Spires

The Cathedral Spires are massive. We didn’t see any rock climbers but heard they climb here.

End of the Trail

Other Sights Along the Trail

A dedicated bench perfectly placed overlooking the mountains. A cave hidden behind some rocks but not that hidden.

360 View of the Cathedral Spires

360 Video

Our Thoughts

A very nice hike with lots of options ~ great views, small cave, rock scrambling and many scenic places to sit and relax. So far, the Black Hills has been amazing. We’d heard South Dakota is a hidden gem and this area won’t let you down.

Are you Considering This Hike?

Check the weather, if rain or bad weather is expected, this would be better done another day
There are some dropoffs, so just stay away from edges and be safe
If you plan on going to Little Devils Tower, be aware there is some rock scrambling

Hike Recommendations

Water: Always bring plenty of water as summer temperatures can be very high
Food/Snacks: Always bring some food
Hiking Boots/Shoes: Traction is Important – No sandals, flip flops, slippers, dress shoes
Hiking Sticks/Poles: Poles will reduce the impact on knees and leg muscles

More Useful Information

Sylvan Lake

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