This is the outer loop of the Big Hill Trail System that uses parts of Big Hill Trail #72, A Loop
, Big Hill Trail #72, B Loop
, Big Hill Trail #72, D Loop
and Big Hill Trail #72, C Loop
to form a 12 mile loop. The trails are well-maintained and easy to follow with relatively low grades and easy hiking. There are views of Spearfish Canyon and a few babbling brooks/streams to enjoy.
Most of the trail is on older Forest Service road, so the overhead cover can be sparse, and also detracts slightly from the singletrack feel. If you are looking for something technical, this isn't the hike for you. There may also be cattle, which can be a nuisance.
Can be very wet in the spring. Fall is the ideal season with beautiful foliage.
Start at the Big Hill Trailhead and cross the road to get to the start proper. Follow the trail into a clearing where a right-hand turn takes you over a small bridge through a fence.
The trail then comes to the intersection between the Big Hill Trail #72, A Loop
and Big Hill Trail #72, B Loop
. Stay right and follow the B loop. The trail meanders through some denser aspen groves and climbs a slight grade before descending to meet with the A Loop
Stay right and follow the short segment of Big Hill Trail #72, A Loop
to Big Hill Trail #72, D Loop
. Again, hang a hard right to follow D Loop
. Ascend the trail and avoid the creeks if it is wet out. Follow the streams around and back down until a short spur is met called D1
. This spur takes you to a viewpoint of Spearfish Canyon. It is worth the short trip out and back to take in the stunning views.
Continue back to D Loop
and meet up with Eleventh Hour Spring and the intersection with Big Hill Trail #72, C Loop
. Take a right-hand turn to follow C Loop
and the Eleventh Hour Creek. This section is a nice hike along the stream and would make for a good spot to cool off if needed. Climb up the hill and follow some tight turns through the forest and old service roads. There are views of the surrounding Black Hills from the high points.
Follow C Loop
until reaching the junction with Big Hill Trail #72, A Loop
. This section is hike through some grassy pastures and open areas. There may be some wet spots if there has been significant moisture. Follow A Loop
back to the bridge/fence crossing and back out to the trailhead.
Birch, aspen, pine, deer, turkey, wildflowers.
Big Hill was named when the early prospectors, heading to gold fields with wagons and teams of horses, could barely make it over the "big hill" when coming from Spearfish.