We were deep in the Black Hills of South Dakota, traveling along Slate Prairie Road, in search of the trail that would lead us directly to Deerfield Lake Dam. This was supposedly a separate trail from both Deerfield Trail #40 and the Deerfield Lake Loop Trail (which was wildly overgrown last summer). Initial research indicated that the trail we were looking for was actually an old Forest Service Road. On some maps it was referred to as Dutchman Road, and on others as USFS Road 371. Beyond that, we couldn't find much information.
Once we were properly in the middle of nowhere, a pair of signs directed us to our destination. One pointed the way to Deerfield Dam, the other informed us that we had arrived at the Kinney Canyon Walk In Fishery.
We pulled in and found a small parking area and the start of a gated Forest Service Road -USFS 371. A wide path extended into the woods. This was exactly what we were looking for!
The sun was bright overhead as we set off on our trek. This particular trail followed Castle Creek, which was one of the reasons we chose it. It was warm out, but this hike would provide plenty of opportunities for the dogs to play in the water along the way and cool off as they pleased.
The path was wide and mostly flat, making for a fairly easy hike. We came upon an informational sign about the dam and the lovely creek valley we were about to explore.
After a few minutes of walking, the girls found a nice spot to venture into the creek. They dipped their paws in the cool water before wading in. Soon they were splashing around, summer sun on their backs and smiles on their sweet faces.
After the dogs were done cooling off in the clear rushing water, we continued along the trail. It made its way between forested hills, following the curves of the creek.
The path was pleasant and simple to traverse. After a while, we were standing at the base of the dam. It towered over us as we followed the road to its end at the dam's small control room. There, powerful jets of water shot out from Deerfield Lake, feeding Castle Creek.
It was loud, but the girls were curious enough to look at it with wonder for a few minutes. We took a break in the shade near the creek. The main path came to an end at the control room, but we noticed another trail that made its way to the top of the dam. As soon as the girls were ready, we started up the path.
A crisp breeze blew through the valley as we hiked. The upwards trek to the top of the dam was the most strenuous part of our adventure, but was only a short distance. We completed the brief ascent and were rewarded with a gorgeous view of Deerfield Lake.
We were on the north side of the lake, gazing out across the sprawling blue water below. It was absolutely beautiful. The dogs and I stood atop the dam, enjoying the vistas and watching boats floating in the distance.
Wooded hills surrounded the sparkling lake; this was a wonderful place to be. Behind us was a fantastic view of Kinney Canyon and the path we had hiked to get here.
We walked across the dam to its far eastern side and sat down in the shade under a small thicket of pine trees. On one side of us Deerfield Lake stretched into the distance, and on the other side was the splendid Castle Creek Valley. We hung out atop the dam for a while; the views were marvelous and we were in no hurry to leave.
We watched as the occasional boat came lazily drifting by. Deerfield Lake has wake restrictions for water crafts, making it one of the most peaceful and serene places in the Black Hills. It's generally less crowded than its nearby competitors, and over the years has become one of our favorite places to visit.
Eventually it was time to gather ourselves together and begin the trek back. We began to make our way down the dam, but first the girls paused at the top to take in the views of Kinney Canyon one last time before we descended down into it.
We set off along the path once more, making our way back through the canyon. Before long, the dogs were in the creek again, playing and cooling off. They were having a delightful time splashing and prancing in chilly Castle Creek. They gleefully hopped in and out of the clear stream, joy on their little faces. It was an absolutely blissful time.
We continued along the path, the dogs letting their fur dry in the warm sunshine. The hike back out was easy, and the wide trail was especially nice for walking two dogs at once.
After a while we made it back to the gate and found our car patiently waiting for us. This had been a wonderful hike! The walk through Kinney Canyon had been charming. The views from atop Deerfield Dam were phenomenal and worth every step it had taken to get there.
The walk was a little long, but not strenuous. The toughest part was the actual hike up the side of the dam at the end, but that wasn't too difficult. All and all our adventure lasted about 4 hours, but we took our time and made several stops throughout the journey.
The dogs seemed to love every second of this hike, from the exciting smells and stunning scenery to the fun of playing in the creek along the way. We thoroughly enjoyed it and would gladly do it again.
This had been a perfect excursion for a warm day and an excellent way to spend some time in sublime wilderness.