12 Fall Color Hikes in the Black Hills
Fall Colors near Sylvan Lake
While there are many hiking choices in the Black Hills, here are 12 hikes we think will give you some great opportunities for viewing the vibrant colors of autumn. Please check out the links in the listing below for how to get there and what to expect:
1. Spearfish Canyon. This maybe the most popular destination for hikers and sight-seers, boasting a variety of trails and overlooks. One could easily spend a week here hiking and still not see all the sights. The Roughlock Falls Trail and the Iron Creek Trail are sure bets.
2. Little Elk Creek Canyon. Here is another scenic and popular hiking route that will take you through a deep canyon along a beautiful stream and lots of colorful trees.
3. Bear Mountain. Forest Service Road 299.1C, from Bobcat Road (County Road 299) northwest of Custer, passes through numerous stands of aspen along a small stream for about one mile, before the route goes into pine forests. The distance to the summit is about 2.5 miles, but the best colors are along the first mile.
4. Iron Creek, in the Black Elk Wilderness. There are actually two routes along Iron Creek that will take you through beautiful groves of aspen, birch, oak and more. One is the Iron Creek Trail and the other would be the Norbeck Trail from the upper trailhead, for about 2 miles as it follows Iron Creek, before it ascends the slopes of Black Elk Peak.
5. Lovers Leap in Custer State Park. While half of this loop trail routes mostly through pine forest, the lower half of the trail passes through Galena Creek Canyon and its colorful treasure of aspen, oak, birch and other deciduous trees. The high point along the Lovers Leap Trail also gives a spectacular overlook to the fall colors in the canyon below.
6. The Flume Trail, particularly in the Boulder Hill area, is blessed with abundant color every fall. The Flume "A" and "B" loop trails also have colorful sections.
7. Hell Canyon, is one of the very best canyon hikes in the Black Hills. The re-growth of foliage since the great forest fires in 2000 has produced vibrant colors on the canyon floor each fall. There are also some aspen groves that the 5.5-mile trail passes through, making for a delightful autumn hike.
8. Custer Peak. Not only are there beautiful fall colors to be seen along the 1.2 mile forest service road to the summit, but the whole area around the peak has pockets of aspens to brighten the scenery.
9. The Mickelson Trail. Fall colors vary greatly along this trail, but generally some of the greatest concentrations are in the Mystic-Rochford area. The beauty of this trail is the gentleness of the grade and surface, making this accessible to almost everyone.
10. Elk Creek Canyon, via the Centennial Trail. While the Centennial Trail passes through a number of scenic canyons and valleys, perhaps none are more scenic than Elk Creek Canyon (not to be confused with Little Elk Creek Canyon). From the Elk Creek Trailhead, hikers will find several miles of beautiful fall colors surrounding the route.
11. Mount Warner, from the Samelias Trailhead on the Centennial Trail. Hikers will see the most fall colors on the trail along the lower stretches, but there are more in various locations in the area.
12. The Horsethief Lake Trail in the Black Elk Wilderness. This 2.7 mile route to the center of the Black Elk Wilderness passes by many aspens, oaks, birch and other colorful trees, as well as a small 8-foot waterfall just off the trail.
For additional fall colors hike information, check out the Black Hills National Forest page by clicking here: More Fall Colors
Bless the LORD, O my soul! O LORD my God, You are very great; You are clothed with splendor and majesty, Psalm 104:1