Exactly How to Hike Black Elk Peak in South Dakota (From a Local)

Is hiking to the top of Black Elk Peak in South Dakota calling your name? We’re sharing exactly how to hike Black Elk Peak in the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota. 

I grew up in South Dakota, and I can’t wait to share this epic hike with you! Plan a trek to this sacred mountain in the Black Hills while visiting the oldest mountain range in the United States.

How Long Does it Take to Hike Black Elk Peak?

One of my favorite things to do growing up in Custer, South Dakota, was hiking to the Black Elk Peak lookout tower.  It was previously known as Harney Peak and renamed in 2015 after a Holy Oglala Lakota Medicine Man, Black Elk. 

It is the highest point in the U.S. east of the Rockies. It is a scenic trail with spectacular views of the Black Hills. It is also a great workout! 

Self-Guided Tours

Hiking to Black Elk Peak from Sylvan Lake Trail #9 is roughly 7.4 miles round trip and will take about 3-4 hours to complete. 

Black Elk Peak Trail Day Hike Details

Being from the Black Hills of South Dakota near Custer, my favorite route to hike to Black Elk Peak is Sylvan Lake Trail #9. Sylvan Lake is located in Custer State Park, so you’ll need to purchase a day pass to enter and park in the parking lot. 

Self-Guided Tours

Trail Name: Sylvan Lake Trail #9 Difficulty: Moderate difficulty + 1,100 feet elevation gain.  There are switchbacks and stairs to reach the lookout.

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Learn more about how to plan an incredible day hike to one of South Dakota’s most historic gems!