Saturday, April 3, 2010


For an easy hike just outside of Rapid City, a minimum of effort can still pay off big with a great view. A round trip hike from the highway to the lookout takes less than an hour, and the view overlooks Dark Canyon, all the way to the water tower on Rushmore Road (16) from Hisega. At 4,682, the gain is mostly done on the highway there, and a few short uphill climbs followed by relatively flat meanders makes this accessible for most hikers and walkers.

There are several pinnacles named "Buzzard's Roost" throughout the Black Hills (another notable one is located in Savoy, in Spearfish Canyon), but this one is the closest to Rapid City. To get there, take 44 West (Rim Rock Highway) past Canyon Lake and up onto the Limestone Plateau. The pull-off for Fire Road 596 is easy to spot on the left (Westbound from Rapid) just a mile or so before Hisega. There is a small parking lot and a sign describing the mountain biking trails accessible from there. Simply follow the main trail due south (FR 596) uphill to the ridgeline, then follow the trail west. The prominent hill jutting out from the ridge is the Buzzard's Roost (above, as seen from the ridge). Make a left onto the side trail which leads along the ridge to the lookout. Harney Peak can be seen to the south, Thrall and Scruton Mountain are visible to the west, and to the east the view encompasses Dark Canyon all the way to Route 16 and Rapid City, partly visible to the north-east. The lookout also boasts a great view of Hisega, just below to the northwest. (YDS Class 1)