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Bear Mountain Lookout


Cold winds blow as the world begins to awaken from its hibernation. This would be a perfect day to sit atop a mountain and take in the revitalization of the planet. But, not all mountain treks are arduous -some can be done by car.

Bear Mountain Lookout is easily reached via a lovely drive through Black Hills National Forest.

We began by heading west on County Road 284, just north of Custer, South Dakota. The gravel road led us past meadows filled with grazing cows and into the woodlands.

We navigated the tangle of Forest Service roads easily enough. Signs popped up along the way, keeping us on the right track. The route to the lookout was well-marked and eventually took us to USFS 293, which led to the top of Bear Mountain.

The drive through the forest was lovely -the dogs and I really enjoyed it. As the road climbed through the woods, we began to see other mountains in the distance.

We were greeted at the top of Bear Mountain by a tall lookout tower and a public restroom (both of which were closed during our visit).

We parked the car and got out to explore our surroundings. The scenery was fantastic; we had amazing views of the mountains as they stretched into the distance around us. Aside from the strong wind atop the mountain, this was a gorgeous day and a wonderful place to spend an afternoon.

The dogs seemed to enjoy the vistas, but they were not fond of the chilly breeze that kept whipping up. Nonetheless, we continued our tour of the summit, taking it all in.


An old Forest Service road ran down the back of the mountain. The road was impassable by vehicle, but we decided to take a little stroll along the path to stretch our legs. The girls trotted along, happily sniffing all the new and exciting scents this place had to offer.

After a brief walk down the old road, we turned around and meandered back up the path. There was a lot of room to roam around atop the mountain so we took our time enjoying the sights.

We made our way back over to the fire tower where Maggie graciously 'posed' by the Bear Mountain elevation sign.

Bear Mountain is the 3rd highest mountain in the Black Hills, standing at 7,166 ft tall.

We continued our leisurely stroll around the top of the mountain, absorbing everything it had to offer.

After thoroughly enjoying all there was to see, we loaded back into the car. We followed the gravel road as it disappeared over the horizon, returning us to the deep forest.

This was a fantastic bit of adventure that required very little effort on our part. There was no strenuous climb up a mountain, just a beautiful drive through the forest. The roads themselves were fairly well maintained and could easily be managed by most vehicles.

This was a perfect activity for a sunny but chilly afternoon. Aside from the strong wind blowing at the summit, the dogs seemed to love every minute of our expedition. This had been an ideal day for this particular trip, when we were all in the mood to sit on top of the world.


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