Friday, June 21, 2013

Harney Peak, South Dakota (High Point #18 ) September 19, 2010.

Harney Peak, South Dakota  (7,242') via Harney Peak-Sylvan Lake Trail,  September 19, 2010.

Distance: 7 miles (RT)

Elevation gain: 1,100'

Trailhead:  For the Sylvan Lake approach, take U.S. route 16 west for about 30 miles to Hill City, SD. Drive through Hill City on 16, and about 3.2 miles out of town turn east onto S.D. route 87. follow this for 6.1 miles to Sylvan Lake recreation area on the north side of the road. Trail starts at the northwest corner of the day use loop road.

Lesson learned:  Steps get you up the steepest part.

Hiked with Rich. I was traveling to Rapid City for work and figured this would be a good time to hike the high point of South Dakota.  Harney Peak has the distinction of being the highest summit east of the Rockies. 
We got to the trailhead around 9 a.m., parked by the lake and headed on a wide path with good footing.

We could see the peak from the distance and wondered how we would get there. It's steep and looks like one would need climbing gear to get to the summit.  But all the information I had on the hike indicates it to be an easy one so we forged on.

This is my first trip to South Dakota and I worried about snakes on the trail but didn't see any. 

How do we get up there?
The landscape is extraordinary with rock jutting up like loaves of French bread.  We couldn't get enough of the views! 
When we got to the really steep area near the summit, we found steps!  Up we went to the lookout tower.
Steps!  These would be great in the Whites!
 The lookout tower was first built in the 1920s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. It well build of stone and still in relatively good shape. 

Inside of the building.
We hung out at the top for a while and had lunch, but then kept on the move as the summit is inundated with squirrels!  After exploring the area around the summit building for a bit, we headed back down and spent the rest of the week as tourists.