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Topic: Short overnight in the Black Hills, Need a short overnight with a 5 year old< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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climbmda Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 18 2013, 5:33 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

We are planning a Black Hills trip this summer.  My wife and I with a 5 year old.  Planning on a few nights at Sylvan Lake Campground with day hikes and the usual touristy spots.  We also want to bring him on a backcountry overnight. Pretty sure we would be good going up to 5 miles each way if it was easy to moderate trail.  Would plan on one or two nights before hiking out, depending on location.

Ideally on a stream or water of some kind. Fishing is a big plus, as both the kid and I love to fish.

Any suggestions hugely appreciated.  The kid did three long weekend car camping trips last year, plus a hike in weekend on the MN North Shore and a 4 day canoe camping trip in the BWCA, so he has a good "base".


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Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day.  Teach a man to fish and he'll spend spend all his days on a boat drinking beer.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 19 2013, 11:38 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

My wife and I did the Harney Peak loop a couple years ago.  I wouldn't do the whole loop again as there were huge stands of dead lodgepole pines which made us quite nervous in the wind.  However, the area a mile or two past the peak is really nice.  Once you pass the summit, the crowds disappear and there are some nice areas to set up camp by small streams, no fish though.

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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 20 2013, 11:31 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

From Sylvan Lake, you can explore the Harney Peak area on day hikes. As Cadesun mentioned above, the area is crowded both with people and with dead pine trees. The trees were killed by pine beetles and are in various stages of decay.

However, I would stay clear of that immediate area if you want an small overnight trip. Any streams of water are about 1500 to 2000 feet or more lower in elevation. So getting there is not just a matter of mileage but elevation change. You'd have to do a lot of climbing to get back out. If you think the 5-year old can handle it that may be an option. But there is another problem.

This area has suffered severe drought about 9 out of the last 10 years. It just so happens that the summer of a couple years ago was about the only exception to the drought. So what Cadesun says about those streams was unusual for the last decade. There is not much water in the area. And there definitely is no fishing there.

Harney Peak is part of Black Elk Wilderness. Generally at lower elevations of the Wilderness you can find water in the main streams. However, trailheads that access those areas often route you through growths of poison ivy crowding the trail before you get to the stream. In some areas, the poison ivy crowds the stream itself. Your 5-year old would need to be very sharp-eyed at all times to avoid the poison ivy.

Simply put, don't expect to find fishing near any primitive campsite in the Black Hills. Count yourself lucky to find water. Fishing areas are elsewhere.

Water is the problem. The Black Hills are not alpine-zone mountains with snow melt nearly all summer long. Streams often begin to dry up by late July or earlier depending upon the drought. There are a few truly robust, year-round, streams, but they are generally close to roads.

Can you narrow down how early in summer you are planning your trip?


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 21 2013, 10:28 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thank you for the detailed response.  That is very helpful to know.  We may stick with campgrounds and dayhikes, after all.

Our trip is planned for mid July.


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 21 2013, 11:05 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I didn't backpack at Wind Cave when we visited a few years ago, but I sure wanted to  :;):   The NW section of the park is open for backcountry camping.  I think it would be ideal for a 5-year old - rolling meadows, forest, creeks, prairie dogs, bison to see.  Plus the cave is fantastic; I don't know a kid who doesn't like a good trip underground.

But, the Black Hills have great dayhiking as well, I don't think you could go wrong with either plan.

Pics are heavy from our visit to Badlands, but photos from our 2010 SD trip are here.  I'd love to get back to the Black Hills again some year (we'll visit ND this June to see the "other" set of badlands).  Someplace on this site I have a TR from that trip but search isn't behaving for me right now (plus the pictures got moved from Webshots to Picasa at the end of last year anyway).

We were there in June; July will be hot and sunny, but I bet the prairie will be *spectactular* at that time.

Have fun!


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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 12 2013, 10:26 am Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

We did this trip last year. It was a great time for my family.  We only car-camped, but we did a hike to Harney Peak.  (Our 4-year-old only made it 1.5 miles on that hike which was hard for her and moderate for everyone else. But we had planned for it and were prepared with our child carrier. So consider that if you try Harney Peak.) The kids preferred swimming in the lakes. We camped at Sheridan Lake, and they swam in Sylvan Lake after hiking Harney.

We camped for a few nights at the Grace Coolidge Campsite in Custer State Park which is right on the banks of the Grace Coolidge Creek.  Our kids loved wading in it.  Also across the road from the campsite is a very clean, well-maintained shower and toilet facility.  Trust me, your wife will appreciate having hot showers available! Although the campsite is right off the highway, it was very cozy.

As Peeb suggested above, the Badlands are definitely worth a visit.  And Wind Cave is very scenic.  We didn't camp there, and our visit to the cave was halted because a wild fire was threatening nearby. But there are so many things to do and places to see in the Black Hills that you could spend weeks there.  We'll be returning there in a few years.


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