Rock Climbing

Access for the Ages

With several national icons nestled among the pines of the Black Hills National Forest, this Island in the Plains serves as the backdrop for these symbols of America.  Specialized campgrounds, roaded recreation opportunities and a system of trails connecting communities, showcase this Forest that provides user friendly access to year round family activities.  Together the attractive features of the Black Hills National Forest, Custer State Park, and area National Parks, Memorials, and Monuments are the foundation for the local recreation economies.

Amid the splendid scenery of the Black Hills National Forest are 11 reservoirs, 30 campgrounds, 26 picnic areas, 2 scenic byways, 1,300 miles of streams, 13,000 acres of wilderness, 353 miles of trails, and much more. 

Use the sidebar menu on the left or right: find an area/find an activity to learn about all the different ways you can enjoy the outdoors in the Black Hills National Forest.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information

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Sundance Trail System Trailhead (Trail #93)

The Sundance Trail System weaves through the network of densely-forested canyons and winding open ridges that form the Bearlodge Mountains. From some ridge tops you can see the Custer Expedition Route, Devils Tower, and the Twin Missouri Buttes. Elk, deer and turkey are some of the species represented by the abundant wildlife.

The secluded trails provide one of the most primitive recreational opportunities in the Black Hills. Parts of the trail system have existed since the 1800s. They were the routes to reliable water, the only access to some parts of the mountains, and a key part of the rich mining history of the Bearlodge Mountains.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, miners and homesteaders made their way into the Bearlodge Mountains and settled. The Ogden Family settled in the mouth of what is now Ogden Canyon in 1881. In 1893, a German immigrant, Emil Reuter, also made his way into the canyon to spend the rest of his life prospecting.

As trail users wander through the southern Bearlodge Mountains, they might notice old fire scars.  They are remnants of the great Sundance Fire of 1936 that burned 8,200 acres and treatened the town of Sundance.

Individual Trail Information:

  • Ogden Creek Trail, 4.8 miles, Difficulty Rating: Moderate.
  • Sand Pit Trail, 4.8 miles, Difficulty Rating: Moderate.
  • Upper Ogden Trail, 1.5 miles, Difficulty Rating: Moderate.
  • East Fork Quarry Trail, 1.2 miles, Difficulty Rating: Moderate.
  • Ogden Ridge Trail, 4.3 miles, Difficulty Rating: Difficult.
  • Reuter Springs Trail, 3.0 miles, Difficulty Rating: Difficult.
  • Richardson Fire Trail, 5.2 miles, Difficulty Rating: Difficult.
  • Sheepnose Trail, 5.8 miles, Difficulty Rating: Difficult.
  • Sheepnose Mountain Trail, 2.3 miles, Difficulty Rating: Moderate.
  • Tent Canyon Trail, 1.5 miles, Difficulty Rating: Moderate.
  • Tent Canyon Ridge Trail, 4.1 miles, Difficulty Rating: Difficult.
  • West Fork Quarry Trail, 0.5 mile, Difficulty Rating: Moderate.
  • Whitetail Trail, 0.5 mile, Difficulty Rating: Moderate.
  • Edge Trail, 2.6 miles, Difficulty Rating: Difficult.
  • South Fork Trail, 2.8 miles, Difficulty Rating: Difficult.*
  • Sundance Trail, 1.9 miles, Difficulty Rating: Difficult.

*The South Fork Trail is not recommended for horse users due to terrain, slope and/or difficulty.

Deerfield Reservoir Complex

Deerfield Reservoir is located 20 miles west of Hill City, SD. The Bureau of Reclamation manages the dam and water. Castle Creek flows into and out of the reservoir and provides additional fishing opportunities. Ice fishing, snowmobiling and ice skating are popular winter sports here. The complex has three campgrounds, two boat launches, two picnic areas and the Deerfield Lake Loop Trail (Trail #40L). Travel on the reservoir is limited to five miles per hour and there is a no-wake restriction which provides for peaceful fishing and boating experiences.

Reservoir water levels and boat ramp data can be found on the Bureau of Reclamation website for Pactola and Deerfield Reservoirs:

Big Hill Trailhead (Trail #72)

Big Hill Trails

The Big Hill Ski Trail system consists of five loop trails and one spur trail, for a total distance of 13.6 miles. During the winter season the trails are groomed for cross-country skiing in cooperation with the Black Hills Nordic Ski Club. 

There is a Big Hill Trail designated specifically for snow shoeing. We ask that snowshoers not use the groomed ski trails. Snowshoeing damages the tracks that the ski clubs work hard to establish and maintain.  Snowshoe damage makes it very difficult to ski on the tracks.

The snowmobile trail can be accessed near the Big Hill parking lot.

Big Hill was named when the early prospectors, heading to gold fields with wagons and teams of horses, could barely make it over the "big hill" when coming from Spearfish.

Big Hill Brochure & Map

Big Hill Snowshoe Map

Horsethief Lake

Horsethief Lake is located near Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Fishing, especially ice fishing, is popular on this lake. Dredging operations were completed a few years ago to clean out excessive sediment to restore the depth and improve water quality.