Rising 5,333 feet above sea level, this peak sits just a few miles south of Sturgis, South Dakota. This was once home to a lookout tower, but now a pair of radio towers mark the top instead. The Veterans Peak Trail is easily accessed via Vanocker Canyon Road. The start is located on USFS Road 139. Almost immediately after turning onto USFS 139 the road forks. The left path, marked 139.1C, is the one that leads to the top of Veterans Peak.
The road was rocky and washed-out enough that driving to the top wasn't an option for us (although an ATV would stand a good chance of making it). There's no actual parking area, so we pulled off to the side of the dirt road and parked at the bottom. From there we began our nearly 1 mile trek to the top of the small mountain.
The hike was uphill the entire way, but wasn't terribly steep or challenging. As we climbed we could see distant hills through the trees. The girls enjoyed the wide trail, pausing occasionally to sniff things or look out over the scenery. Delightful lavender fields blanketed the hillside along the way.
It was a fairly steady uphill trek, and we had to stop at least once for a water break (and to catch our breath) along the way. The hike led us through the woodlands of the beautiful Black Hills as we made our way up the mountain.
Once at the top, we explored the peak and took in the beautiful views. We all enjoyed the forested hills that spread out to the west as far as the eye could see. The girls took it all in and then sat down for a well deserved treat and water break.
Two small buildings equipped with large radio towers sat atop the hill. Other than those, the scenery was fantastic. We had great views to the west and southeast of the mountain. Trees obstructed some of the vistas but it was still lovely. This was a nice place to sit and enjoy the surroundings. The girls appreciated relaxing at the top where there was plenty of room to rest.
After everyone had fully explored the top of Veterans Peak, it was time to make our way back. We followed the rocky road steadily down the hill. Along the way, we caught glimpses of Sturgis and Bear Butte through the trees. The girls had fun during our descent, stopping to investigate interesting smells and sounds.
The dogs traversed the path with no problems, but I had to watch my step. The decent-sized rocks littering the trail presented a hazard to be navigated. However, the hike down didn't take long even though we moved cautiously slow through parts of it. In fact, the entire adventure only took about an hour and a half (including our time spent at the top).
This expedition doesn't require a large investment of time, and is easily reachable from civilization, which makes it fairly popular. It's always a good idea to be on the lookout for off-road vehicles while exploring the roads and trails. We encountered one other dog and their person during our adventure.
This fun hike was a little demanding but not too strenuous. It was easy to find, even though it wasn't well marked. We all had a good time on our trek to the top of Veterans Peak.