Black Elk Mountain (formerly Mt Harney), Black Hills, South Dakota


Black Elk Mountain (formerly Mt. Harney), Black Elk Wilderness of Black Hills National Forest, South Dakota
Distance – 9 miles round trip
Map – Can be found here
Trailhead – Can be found at Sylvan Lake at Custer State Park (entrance fee, but totally worth it because Custer is amazing)

A note from Mike of South Jersey Trails – The following is a guest post from loyal reader Barbara, who had a pretty awesome adventure out in South Dakota last month and was nice enough to share her hike up the highest peak in that great state.  Thanks Barbara!

September 2016 – Last month, I finally had the opportunity to scratch off hiking to the summit of Black Elk Mountain off of my bucket list. The summit at 7,242 ft. (2,207m) is described as the “highest summit in the US east of the Rockies.” But what that really mean is that you drew a line directly east all peaks which are south or north of that line are not counted.

My friend and I chose the easiest southern route via the trail head which begins in Custer State Park near Sylvan Lake. After about a mile hike, the remainder of the trail meanders through the Black Hills National Forest / Black Elk Wilderness. This is a highly traveled trail and moderately difficult at times, but the views are well the hike.


The summit had these crazy niches of green grass to hang out and refuel, just catch your breathe, or take it all in.  Chipmuncks and ladybugs abound!


Very cool!  I forgot to say that the hike from our route took two fairly fit middle -aged women 3.5 hrs, and the total miles in and out, car to summit and back, was about 9 miles.

Barbara also shared a few pictures of her trip through nearby Badlands National Park, which are also spectacular.  

Big thank you to Barbara for sharing her awesome adventure!  We’re always happy to have guest posts from loyal readers!

Nearby – What isn’t nearby?  Custer State Park is amazing.  Mount Rushmore is a national icon.  The Crazy Horse Memorial is spectacular.  Wind Cave National Park is great both above and below ground.  Swordfish and Deadwood are historical mining towns.  The Black Hills are simply amazing.

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