Black Elk Peak / Harney Peak

Stunning views from the Stone Fire Lookout Tower at the top of Black Elk Peak / Harney Peak. It’s also sacred ground to Native Americans and a place of reflection.

Black Elk Peak
“Harney Peak”

Facts To Remember


Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 6.4 miles round trip / approx 5 hours
Elevation Gain: 1499 feet
Starting Elevation: 5,745 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 Black Elk Peak using Trail #9 and came back using Trail #4 which is the trail we took getting to Little Devils Tower and Cathedral Spires.

The views from the top of Black Elk Peak aka Harney Peak at the Stone Fire Lookup Tower are amazing. It felt like you could see forever or at least into a four other states as we later read.

Hiking Black Elk Peak

We started the hike from Sylvan Lake using Trail #9. It’s a nice trail with great views, some uphill hiking and eventually a view of the Stone Fire Lookout Tower way out in the distance.

More Views Along the Trail

A water crossing, signs for other trails and many great views.

Arriving at the Peak

We have finally reached the peak of Black Elk. The views are perfect with clear skies. The peak is 7,242 feet.

This granite peak is sacred ground to Native Americans as can be seen by the many prayer trees.

Stone Fire Lookup Tower

Views from the tower at 7,242 feet.

360 Shot from the Top

Trail #4 Back to Sylvan Lake

Rock Climbing at Cathedral Spires

As we hiked down Trail #4 we passed Cathedral Spires and noticed some rock climbers at the top. Look closely at the second photo and you can see people at the very top. Impressive!

Our Thoughts

Fun but long hike that passes open fields, great views of the Cathedral Spires, and of course, the never ending views from the top of Black Elk Peak. We spent lots of time sitting and enjoying the views from the top. There is a lot of space to walk around and find a space without other people. Lots of prayer trees and feels very calm and peaceful.

Black Elk Peak / Harney Peak is another gem in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

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
It’s not an extremely difficult hike but it is long

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

Cathedral Spires & Little Devils Tower

Join the Conversation

Your email will not be published.