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A trail to the summit of a sacred mountain with amazing views and religious reflection.

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Out and Back

4,406' 1,343 m


3,385' 1,032 m


1,039' 317 m


1,038' 316 m



Avg Grade (7°)


Max Grade (22°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Fall Colors · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Please stay on the trail and respect those participating in religious activities. Do not disturb or photograph prayer cloths and tobacco ties. A buffalo herd roams the base of the butte. Buffalo are dangerous, please do not approach. Possession or consumption of alcohol at Bear Butte State Park east of Highway 79 is prohibited. Bear Butte is a sacred site for many people and will be respected as such.


This is an exposed trail that is subject to high wind and scorching heat (or frigid cold). The trail is rocky, but the views are worth the effort.

The religiousness and sacredness of the site may be an experience, but if ceremonies are taking place, it would be prudent to hike another day to be respectful.

Need to Know

During your visit, you'll see colorful pieces of cloth and small bundles or pouches hanging from the trees. These prayer cloths and tobacco ties represent the prayers offered by individuals during their worship. Please respect these offerings and leave them undisturbed.

The mountain is sacred to many American Indian tribes who come here to hold religious ceremonies. Please be respectful of worshipers and their religious practices.


Start from the parking lot and head through pine trees and prairie up switchbacks. Go through several rock outcroppings before heading up towards the summit. This section passes through some scree and talus and continues to switchback up the mountain. The trail reaches the summit with a viewing platform and information about the surrounding view. Take a few minutes to look at the vast expanse of prairie, the northern Black Hills and the town of Sturgis.

Flora & Fauna

Wildlife includes turkey, deer, bison, and rattlesnakes. Binoculars are helpful in spotting bison on the plains as you head up the trail. There are many wildflowers, but also poison ivy, so keep your eyes open. Birds include Western Meadowlarks, Black-billed Magpies, Spotted Towhees, Mountain Bluebirds, and a variety of warblers.

History & Background

For history on this trail visit the Bear Butte State Park website, provided by South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks.


Shared By:

Kyle Thompson

Trail Ratings

  4.0 from 8 votes


  4.0 from 8 votes
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in South Dakota


3 Views Last Month
2,392 Since May 24, 2015
Intermediate/Difficult Intermediate/Difficult



View of the trail from near the summit. Credit: Jim Kallinen
May 24, 2015 near Sturgis, SD
The bottom third or so of the trail is less exposed and offers a tiny bit of shade.
Jun 28, 2016 near Sturgis, SD
Huge skies, expansive prairie views, and evidence of the 1996 fire are constants on this trail.
Jun 28, 2016 near Sturgis, SD
Starting up the Bear Butte Trail.
Jun 28, 2016 near Sturgis, SD
View of the town of Sturgis and the northern Black Hills from the viewing platform ~1000ft above the plains.
Jun 28, 2016 near Sturgis, SD



Current Trail Conditions

Add Your Check-In


Nov 9, 2023
Marie Scott
Very hard for me, lots of stopping to catch my breath. Much of the trail is uneven shale rocks. Wear sturdy shoes 3.4mi — 2h 44m
Nov 3, 2022
Marie Scott
Def a black diamond! But I did a huge part of it 2.6mi — 1h 39m
Jul 17, 2021
Thomas Horn
Jul 30, 2020
Isaac Lindstrom
Old man and I went up and back. Solid hike. Old man struggled with the heights 3.2mi — 7h 00m
Jul 11, 2020
Anna Santilli
4.2mi — 2h 15m
Jul 11, 2020
Alex Ziegler
4.2mi — 2h 15m
Jul 7, 2020
Anne Carroll
Stunning views. Very strong winds in the top 1/3... likely over 50 mph. Good to have hiking poles! 4mi — 1h 30m
May 17, 2020
Torrie Leuthold
Windyyyy 3.2mi — 1h 30m

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