Hiking Project Logo

blue Big Hill Trail Outer Loop

  4.0 ( 1 ) Favorite


11.9 mile 19.2 kilometer loop


Ascent: 1,471' 448 m
Descent: -1,471' -448 m
High: 5,552' 1,692 m
Low: 5,001' 1,524 m


Avg Grade: 5% (3°)
Max Grade: 22% (12°)


Driving directions Take a virtual tour
Zoom in to see details
Map Key

Trail shared by ktboundary Thompson

Hike through pine and birch with views of Spearfish Canyon.

ktboundary Thompson

Features Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife


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, D1 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.

Need to Know

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 again.

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.

Flora & Fauna

Birch, aspen, pine, deer, turkey, wildflowers.

History & Background

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.

Hiked this trail?

We need help with the following missing trail information:

Dogs Allowed

Is something wrong? Let us know. Have photos to share? Help fellow hikers know what's here.


Rate This Featured Hike

Rate Quality

   Clear Rating

Rate Difficulty

Share This Hike

Check In



Trail Ratings

  4.0 from 1 vote


  4.0 from 1 vote
5 Star
4 Star
3 Star
2 Star
1 Star
Featured Hike Rankings


in South Dakota


34 Views Last Month
893 Since Apr 16, 2015
Intermediate Intermediate



Hiking Project is part of the REI Co-op family,
where a life outdoors is a life well lived.

Shop REI Hiking