Harney Peak, South Dakota 08-01-04

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    • #7667
      highpointersclub
      Participant
      [Ed: Imported from Americas Roof ‘Summit Trip Reports’ forum]
      [By: Jerry Bresnahan on November 5 2004 at 4:45 PM]

      I climbed Harney Peak, the Highpoint of South Dakota at 7242 feet, on Sunday, August 1st, 2004. It was my 26th state highpoint.

      I left the Ace Motel, in Belle Fourche, SD, not too early on Sunday morning. It was one of the cleanest and nicest inexpensive motels I have ever stayed at and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a quality, inexpensive motel in the Black Hills area, especially on the drive to or from White Butte, ND. (See my North Dakota trip report for directions). I arrived at Custer State Park a little after Noon. I paid my $5.00 entrance fee and proceeded to the Sylvan Lake parking area. It was a very crowded Sunday afternoon and the parking area was full. I drove around several times before finding a parking place that I felt comfortable leaving my car unattended in for several hours. I was on my way home from a 6-week trip, to and from the Konvention in Washington, and my car was loaded with gear. I really didn’t have much to choose from so I parked where I could.

      I had noticed a group of hikers near a trailhead at the western part of the parking area, which is south of Sylvan Lake. Without rechecking the Winger’s or Holmes’ guidebooks, or the trail map that was in the guide pamphlet that I received when I entered the park, I assumed that the trailhead I saw must be the correct one to Harney Peak. It turned out that it was A trailhead but not THE trailhead to Harney Peak. I started my hike at 1:00PM. It was a hot and sunny day. I wound up hiking in a westerly, then a southerly, direction for a while before heading back east and ultimately winding up on the #4 trail which I followed to where it intersects with the #9 trail. I continued on trail #9 to the summit of Harney Peak. I encountered quite a few people during my hike but the trails were not overly crowded. I enjoyed the hike very much. The various rock formations were interesting and the views were spectacular, especially from the summit. I spent about 30 minutes at the summit exploring the tower and surrounding area before heading back down. I followed trail #9 back to Sylvan Lake. I think trail #4 had better views and more fascinating rock formations. I arrived back at my car at 4:30PM for a 3 ½ hour roundtrip hiking time, even though my round about way of finding trail #4 added at least an extra mile or two to my total hiking distance. However since it was such a beautiful day for a hike I’m kind of glad that I took the extra scenic route.

      It turned out that my car was parked about as close to the trailhead for trail #9 as I could’ve gotten. I probably would have seen it if I would have taken my time and looked around more closely. That will teach me to check the trail maps and guidebooks before starting out. Looking at my compass as I began my hike might have been a good idea also.

    • #7668
      highpointersclub
      Participant

      Number 4 trail

      [Ed: Imported from Americas Roof ‘Summit Trip Reports’ forum]
      [By: Avery Armes on November 6 2004 at 7:47 PM]

      We did the same route in our late august hike up Harney. We also took the trail from the western edge of the parking area. After talking to a few people on the way up, we came to the conclusion that the number 4 trail is the best way to go, and isnt all that much longer, it just works its way around the other side of the adjacent mountain. I believe its called ‘little devil’s tower’ trail, whcih runs along the side of cathedral spires. We took the gps along and returned on the number 9 trail. The biggest difference is trail 4 rises more vertically before falling a couple hundred feet. number 9 trail elevation gain is alot more gradual.

      Cant wait to get back in those ponderosa pines next summer.

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