A 5th State High Point: Harney Peak, South Dakota

An old fire lookout sits at the summit of 7,242 foot Harney Peak in the Black Hills. © 2012 by Bobby Magill

Deep within the Black Elk Wilderness in Black Hills National Forest is the highest point east of the Rockies — Harney Peak. The mountain, which once served as a fire lookout over the South Dakota’s most rugged terrain, is a massive rock promontory from which you can see the whole of the Black Hills.

Previously, I’d stood atop four other state high points: Wheeler Peak in New Mexico, Black Mesa in Oklahoma, Clingman’s Dome in Tennessee and Mt. Mitchell in North Carolina. Next up: Panorama Point in Nebraska and, of course, Mt. Elbert in Colorado.

The main trailhead to Harney Peak is at Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park (Entrance fee: $15/vehicle!). That trail, which approaches the peak from the south, is swarmed with people, so we chose the lesser-traveled trail to the summit. The longer Harney Trail, which sees relatively few hikers, approaches the peak from the north from the (free!) Willoc Creek Trailhead in Black Hills National Forest. The hike is about a 10 mile hike roundtrip. © 2012 by Bobby Magill


Harney Peak’s summit. © 2012 by Bobby Magill

View from the summit. © 2012 by Bobby Magill

© 2012 by Bobby Magill

Mr. Rushmore is the flat-topped rock in the upper left of the image. © 2012 by Bobby Magill


2 thoughts on “A 5th State High Point: Harney Peak, South Dakota

  1. Harney Peak is a great hike – just enough to earn the incredible view. So nice to have to work a little to get there!

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