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Norbeck Wildlife Preserve & Black Elk Wilderness


child hiking

The Norbeck Wildlife Preserve lies within the Black Hills National Forest and encompasses Black Elk Wilderness. The Norbeck Organic Act of June 5, 1920 authorized the establishment of the Custer State Park Game Sanctuary “for the protection of game animals and birds and to be recognized as a breeding place therefor”. The Norbeck Wildlife Preserve was established by proclamation, October 9, 1920 by then President Woodrow Wilson. The size of the Norbeck has changed over time, but currently 27,494 acres are administered by the Forest Service. Forest Plan direction states that this area is to be managed to provide habitat for game animals and birds. Some human activities are allowed, but these activities must be consistent with wildlife needs. 

Black Elk Wilderness and Norbeck Wildlife Preserve Trail System has eighteen trails ranging in length from 0.6 mile to 8.9 miles. View a Black Elk Wilderness Brochure (.pdf) Unless otherwise noted, the trails listed are open for hikers and stock users only.

Individual Trail Information:

  • Lost Cabin Trail (Trail #2), 5.0 miles.
  • Norbeck Trail (Trail #3), 6.3 miles.
  • Trail #4, 2.3 miles.
  • Willow Creek-Rushmore Trail (Trail #5), 1.9 miles.
  • Sunday Gulch Trail (Trail #6), 3.2 miles
  • Grizzly Bear Creek Trail (Trail #7),  6.3 miles.
  • Willow Creek Loop (Trail #8), 2.8 miles.
  • Harney Peak (North) Trail (Trail #9), 4.7 miles.
  • Harney Peak (South) Trail (Trail #9), 3.8 miles.
  • Horsethief Lake Trail (Trail #14), 2.7 miles.
  • Iron Creek Trail (Trail #15), 2.4 miles, Difficulty Rating: Easy. Mountain biking allowed.
  • Iron Mountain Trail (Trail #16), 1.4 miles.
  • A portion of the Centennial Trail (Trail #89), 8.9 miles.
  • Centennial Bypass Trail (Trail #89B), 1.7 miles.
  • Blackberry Trail, 0.8 mile.
  • Sylvan Lakeshore Trail, 1.0 mile, Difficulty Rating: Easy.
  • Cathedral Spires Trail, 0.9 mile.
  • Little Devils Tower Trail, 0.6 mile.

Black Elk Wilderness and Norbeck Wildlife Preserve Trail System brochures are available at most Ranger District Offices and at the Forest Supervisor's Office.



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