Updated: Aug 16, 2020
The Black Hills contain a maze of twisting back roads. One dirt path after another branch out into the forest, spawning even more off-shoots and complicating the labyrinth. Many of these roads lead nonchalantly into the deep South Dakota woods, heading off to endless possibilities. One such Forest Service Road leads discreetly to the summit of White Tail Peak, the Black Hills' 9th highest mountain.
Like a hidden secret tucked away, White Tail Peak sits quietly overlooking the surrounding thickly wooded hills. Reaching it requires navigating a series of remote gravel roads (we strongly recommend the use of a Forest Service map).
After making our way west from the tiny village of Rochford, we turned south onto Black Fox Camp Road, and past Black Fox Forest Service Campground. From there we headed east on USFS Road 190, otherwise known as White Tail Peak Road. We were looking for the marker for USFS 190.1Q, the spur that leads to the summit of White Tail Peak. After a seemingly long cruise through the lovely woods, we finally found the spot we were looking for.
We pulled off the road and parked, ready to hike up the rocky path. Although this could easily be conquered by an ATV, it was a bit much for our vehicle. Luckily, the hike to the summit was less than a mile from the start of 190.1Q, so it seemed doable on a warm summer afternoon.
We stepped on and over loose, jagged rocks that littered the steadily ascending road. Hot July sun beat down on us as we made our way in and out of the shade. We paused halfway up for a water break. It wasn't a particularly long hike, but the slow uphill trek was taking its toll in the heat. The dogs were having a fabulous time nonetheless.
A delightful mountain breeze blew in the shade as we enjoyed our little rest. We caught glimpses of distant hills through the trees. After a few minutes had passed, we continued along the path through the lovely section of forest.
The road curved with the hillside and continued up the mountain. The path became rockier still, but wasn't terribly strenuous. Distant scenery began to take shape as we gradually rose above the trees. The girls seemed to thoroughly enjoy our trek through the dense forest, and were enthusiastic as we hiked.
The road came to an end at the summit of White Tail Peak. It was a fairly large, flat area with plenty of room to roam around and enjoy the vistas. Surprisingly, trees grew atop the mountain, providing much needed shade for such a warm day.
Stunning views were all around us. Evergreen trees coated the scenery as far as the eye could see. Distant prairies and meadows broke up the rolling hills.
The dogs joyously took in the sights, gazing off into the distance at the sprawling landscape before us. We could see for miles in all directions; far away mountains dotted the horizon.
The sweeping vistas were fantastic! We sat down in the shade atop the summit, taking a water and treat break while appreciating our surroundings.
The girls happily sat atop the mountain; they were all smiles as we absorbed the beauty of this wonderful spot.
This was a dazzling place to be. Time ticked by as we sat atop the summit; breezes came and went as minutes passed. It was far too easy to be taken in by all the beauty that called like a Siren song, making it incredibly difficult to pull ourselves away.
White Tail Peak was enchanting; it felt like a spell being cast over all of us, begging us not to leave. It was so peaceful and mesmerizing that it began to feel like we should just stay here forever. A questionable amount of time went by. Eventually the dogs got up, stretched, and indicated that they were ready to begin the trek back down the hill.
We gathered our things and took one last look around at the planet below us. Slowly, we began to retreat back down towards the car.
Wildflowers decorated the hillsides around us. The hike back went fairly quickly as we retraced our footsteps down the hill. We were back at the bottom again in a matter of minutes.
This had been a marvelous adventure. The hike itself wasn't too long or strenuous, and the payoff was huge. The views from White Tail Peak were sensational.
This excellent place was remote, secluded, and gorgeous. Finding White Tail Peak wasn't fast or simple, but it was worth the time it took to reach it. The girls and I will gladly be looking for an excuse to head that way again soon.