Midwest Living Review
The Black Hills are loaded with beautiful hikes that serve trekkers looking for anything from a 30-minute stroll to a multiday backpacking outing. Towering over them all is the 13-mile round-trip journey to 7,242-foot Harney Peak, the signature hike for outdoorsy visitors. The hike isn't exceptionally strenuous, provided you've set your mind to spending up to six hours on the trail and are in generally good physical condition. The popular trail leaving from Custer State Park's Sylvan Lake provides good footing as it passes through the pine forests on the way to the summit, providing spectacular views of granite spires along the way. The trail remains a path through the pines until the final approach, where you'll climb metal stairs up through a couple of granite notches on the way to the old fire tower on top. From there, you can see seemingly forever, looking out on the breadth of the Hills and four states. Be sure to look for the backside of Mt. Rushmore to the northeast. Note that the trail passes through the Black Elk Wilderness Area, and that there are no services of any kind on the trip. So be smart: Take water, snacks and spare jackets. And go early. Afternoon thunderstorms, which can bring deadly lightning this high up, are common.