As we approached Spearfish Canyon on our scenic drive yesterday I was
leafing through one of several pamphlets and magazines I picked up at
the Black Hills Visitor Information Center. I don't remember if it was
the publication above or another one -- they all rave about
Roughlock Falls. I saw a scenic photo of the falls, read an enticing
description about it, and told Jim I'd like to see it since it wasn't
far off our route.
In the little town of Savoy we turned south on
FSR 222. We quickly came to a large parking lot at the trailhead for the falls.
glance at the map of the nature area told me it was about a one-mile walk on the trail to
Large sign with map at trailhead
I presented that information to Jim -- two miles round trip
and I had no idea what the trail would be like. His knee was sore so he decided to stay in the truck and take a nap in the warm sunshine
while Cody and I hiked on what turned out to be a very nice trail to the falls and back.
How I missed the road on the map, I don't know. It's obvious just
looking at the photo above! I was focused on hiking, I guess.
When I got to the falls I realized most people drive back there. FSR 222 turns into a dirt road shortly after the trailhead
parking area where we stopped. Because it is so narrow and the parking area near the falls is
filled up quickly, publications
encourage people to park where we did and walk to the falls. (Note that
most RVs should not go back this road. There is plenty of room for them
at the trailhead parking area.)
Scenic upper and lower falls at Roughlock; this is
Little Spearfish Creek.
On my return to the truck I could see the road beyond the creek from
several places along the trail but I completely missed it outbound. If
I'd realized the road went so close to the falls I would have encouraged
Jim to drive back there so he'd be more likely to get out and see it. It
really is a beautiful falls. By the time I returned, however, he just wanted to
drive through the rest of Spearfish Canyon and go on back to the
campground at Ellsworth AFB.
Maybe next time!
Nice, smooth trail
I encourage anyone who can comfortably walk two miles to take the
route I did and don't just drive back to the falls. You'll miss too
much, like this tree someone decorated with ornaments and tinsel. I noticed it a
few feet off the trail and it made me smile:
The trail undulates upstream along Little Spearfish Creek, passing
little rapids and a beaver pond in a meadow.
The trail is fairly smooth and mostly shaded by pines, cottonwoods,
aspens, and birches.
Above and below: colorful birch
The deciduous trees are still in their light green, early spring leaf
There were several kinds of white-flowering trees and shrubs in bloom
but few flowers blooming other than dandelions. Yep -- still in
the Dandelion Time Warp!
There are good views along the path of the rock walls and spires for
which the Black Hills are renowned. They looked attractive against the
bright blue sky and billowing white clouds:
There are several colorful, interesting interpretive signs along the
trail that give information about the nature area's wide diversity of wildlife,
plants, and geology:
Cody enjoyed splashing around in the creek when the path dipped close
enough to it. I didn't see anyone else until we reached the falls so I
kept him off-leash until we got there.
There is a nice wooden walkway coming down from the parking area, a
bridge across the creek, and attractive decking on the side of the creek
where the trail I was on approaches the falls.
I viewed the falls from below, where there were fewer people;
I didn't go up to the parking area. I could see a higher deck but wasn't
interested in sharing it with all the folks who were using it to view
The falls and the creek immediately downstream are very pretty with
all the green groundcover and tree leaves. You first see the two lower
As you walk closer to them, the upper falls come into view:
I saw several people walking to the falls via the trail when I was
going back to the truck. Cody got lots of attention, partly because he
was soaking wet and obviously having fun! I didn't let him get in the
falls. He only got in the water farther downstream -- at every
opportunity he got, I might add.
Cody had one last chance to swim before getting back into the
truck. The creek is dammed just upstream from the trailhead parking area
where Jim was waiting for us:
Cody and I went across the dam on the walkway and returned to the
trailhead parking area, a distance of about a couple hundred yards, via
If you visit the Black Hills we highly recommend driving or cycling
through Spearfish Canyon and taking an hour to hike to
Roughlock Falls and back. Bikes aren't
allowed on the trail; either lock it at the trailhead and walk
out and back, or ride it on the dirt road to the falls.
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
and Cody the Ultra Lab
© 2011 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil