Runtrails' Web Journal
Previous       2012 Journal Topics       Home       Next



"Clear water tumbling over limestone cliffs surrounded by birch and aspen sets the scene  
for this idyllic spot, perfect for a quick hike or an afternoon picnic. Fed by Little   
Spearfish Creek before it enters Spearfish Canyon, this area is touted as one of the most
beautiful locations in the Black Hills . . . Roughlock Falls is open year-round.
In the fall, the colors of changing leaves light up the surrounding forest."
~ from the All Trips: Black Hills South Dakota website

This is a continuation of the previous entry.

In summary, this morning we drove to Spearfish so Jim could ride his bike out and back on the Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway, a winding road following Spearfish Creek upstream through interesting limestone and sandstone cliffs for thirteen miles to the town of Savoy.

I crewed for him along the road in our truck in case the traffic was too heavy or he decided he wasn't having any fun.

Jim did have fun and continued on another mile past Savoy to Roughlock Falls, which I think are the most impressive of three sets of falls along Spearfish and Little Spearfish Creeks. Then he rode back to the town of Spearfish while I hiked to the falls with Cody.

When I reached Savoy I parked the truck at the trailhead for Roughlock Falls Trail. The trail leads through scenic forested hills above Little Spearfish Creek to a two-tiered set of waterfalls with boardwalks at the upper and lower levels and a moderately steep dirt trail connecting the two levels.

The Roughlock Falls Nature Area is run by the South Dakota State Game, Fish, & Parks Department. Entry is free to the Roughlock Falls Nature Trail, the falls themselves, picnic areas, restrooms, and the dam close to the parking area in Savoy.



The trail follows fairly close to the creek on one side. Narrow dirt Forest Service Road #22 runs along the other side to -- and beyond -- the upper falls area. 

Here's a diagram of the trail, creek, and dirt road from a sign at the trailhead:

Last year I enjoyed the one-mile hike out and back to the falls on undulating single-track dirt trail along the creek so Cody and I did it again today.

Even though the water is cold all year Cody thought it was perfect for drinking and wading.

It was even prettier this time with all the yellow and gold leaf colors. I think you'll agree if you compare the photos in this entry with the ones I took in June of 2011 when everything was green.

There are several nature and geology interpretive signs along the trail.

I love all the interesting paper bark birch tree trunks along the trail:




There are occasional glimpses of the canyon walls from the trail and from the bridge across the creek near the bottom of the falls:



The trail morphs into a boardwalk next to the creek about 200 feet from the base of the lower falls.

Visitors can follow the walkway shown below to get closer to the falls and/or cross the creek and walk up a rather steep hill to the upper falls:

There is a closer view of the falls from this photo near the top of this entry.


Last year I didnít take the time to hike or drive to the upper part of the falls.

This time I walked up there and explored the picnic area, upper creek, and top of the upper falls. I'm glad I did because it's very scenic and interesting:




There are two boardwalks in the trees with decks overlooking the upper falls on either side of the creek:

The blue dots are from shooting into the sun.


I prefer the views from the boardwalk at the bottom of the falls but it was good to have the upper perspective, too.

Just about anyone can negotiate the Roughlock Falls Trail and the flat trails and boardwalks at the top of the falls. There is a rather steep dirt trail and steps down to the lower level, rendering it unsuitable for some folks to descend and/or ascend. 

If you're athletic enough I recommend hiking the Roughlock Falls Trail at least one way and seeing both levels of the falls at the end of the trail.

I walked back down to the bridge across the creek below the lower falls and hiked another mile back to the truck on Roughlock Falls Trail. I took a short detour and crossed the small dam a little ways from the trailhead parking area:





There were quite a few people at Roughlock Falls today, as well as on the scenic byway.

I knew the Spearfish Canyon area would be crowded on the weekend; I wasnít expecting so many folks out there on a Monday. This is the annual buffalo roundup day at Custer State Park farther south in the Black Hills.

Obviously everyone wasnít down there -- although it felt like it when I attended the roundup last fall.

Next entry:  Jim's 40-mile bike ride in the Black Hills (Mickelson Trail, Stockade Lake, road through Custer State Park)

Happy trails,

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, and Cody the ultra Lab

Previous       Next

© 2012 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil