The Hike to Crow Peak
After my cursory research it was unanimous that Crow Peak had some of the best views in the Black Hills, and that was good enough for me to add it to our itinerary. The day of our hike however was overcast and it crossed my mind as we ascended the mountain that our views would be less-than-stellar once we finally summited. But I was honestly so freaking happy to be out hiking again that I decided I didn’t care. In fact, I was so happy that my memory and impressions of the trail as I began putting this post together didn’t include the fact that the trail crosses through a burn area for about half the total distance; it’s was only when I started selecting photos did I realize how much regrowth we hiked through and how many of our views were cast over the charred remains of ponderosa pines.
The trail included a fairly steady increase in elevation – that I remember – and so we made our way slowly through the yellows of first-succession plants and the purples of wildflowers that had taken the place of the mature ponderosa forest. A couple miles in, the switchbacks began to reveal glimpses of nearby peaks and rocky ridges rising from the trees and our excitement began to build. After making the last 180-degree turn we walked the slope of the ridge until we reached the sign that announced the summit at 5,760 feet. Here we had views in multiple directions over forest and farmland and we began to get our real first sense of the contours of the northern Black Hills.
The descent was not only a welcome rest but an additional opportunity to get an impression of the topography as we took note of some vistas we’d missed on our quest to get to the top. It as also a bit of a countdown to our planned visit to Crow Peak Brewing Company in Spearfish; sampling their beer after hiking the eponymous peak seemed just about perfect to me. Plus, to be honest, I found myself hankering for a good porter to warm me up after the chilly hike. Luckily, they did not disappoint.