Alice and I have been ‘Summering’ in the Black Hills of South Dakota for several years now, and have come to really love the Mountains, Canyons, Creeks & Lakes found here. Recently, we undertook a pleasant short hike on the Roughlock Falls Trail, located in one of our most favorite back-country areas – Spearfish Canyon. This post is about that hike…and to also share some recent Regional news that we just learned… that evidently this area is designated to become South Dakota’s newest State Park – “Spearfish Canyon State Park”. Excellent news, as this post will show why.
Spearfish Canyon is located close to the Wyoming-South Dakota state line, along US Hwy 14-Alt just a few miles south of Spearfish, SD… which also happens to be “just up the road” from Sturgis, SD, home of the fabled “Sturgis Motorcycle Rally”. The Canyon was carved by Spearfish Creek… a world renowned trout creek, along with its numerous tributaries and waterfalls. Our hike destination, Roughlock Falls, is located on a tributary stream named ‘Little Spearfish Creek‘ about a mile upstream of its juncture with the main Spearfish Creek… close to the tiny town of Savoy.
The map below shows the location of Roughlock Falls and the surrounding features & towns. It is fully interactive… click on ‘zoom in’ (+/-) to see clear details of the terrain in the Canyon and around Spearfish Creek:
We began our hike here, at the Trailhead located on Roughlock Falls Rd, a couple hundred yards behind Spearfish Canyon Lodge in Savoy. Plenty of parking and a well maintained Restroom. We should note, for those not wishing to walk this hike, that continuing to drive up Roughlock Falls Rd (~1 mile) will take you to Roughlock Falls Park. The road tracks on the north side of the canyon wall… the Trail on the south side.
For all pictures in this post, just click on the image to open a new window with an expanded, high-resolution view of the picture.
Checking the trail sign before heading up the trail…
This is a ‘gentle’ trail… with benches placed at comfortable & convenient locations. Elevation gain/loss is minimal, less than 150′. However, hiking at 5,000 ft. can present some breathing huffing & puffing for folks not used to it (like, Michigan flatlanders?)… but nothing too bad after the first few hundred yards or so.
Not far up the trail is a small Dam across Little Spearfish Creek… Beautiful clear water… with very visible brown trout spread throughout the pond and creek.
For instance, this large trout… just waiting for a fisherman’s hook.
Speaking of Fishermen, just up the trail we encountered a couple of Fly Fishermen. They seemed to have mastered the Fly Rod casting process quite well. Here’s one…
As we moved further on up the Trail, we encountered bright pockets of sunlight… reflecting off spruce green… with tiny glens making bowls of sunshine in the woods.
Even though the Trail is a popular trail… we found moments of quiet solitude… and beautiful scenery. There are strong urges to just stop… listen… and ponder things.
Evidently, the name of ‘Roughlock Falls’ comes from an old wagon road that once ran through Little Spearfish Canyon. The wagon drivers coming down the steep grade by the Falls used to tie their their wagon wheels in place (‘Roughlock’), and let the wagons ‘skid’ down the grade… until safely past the Falls – Hence, ‘Roughlock Falls’.
After about 30 minutes of slow walking & exploring, we finally arrived at the first cross-creek bridge of Roughlock Falls Park.
Before crossing the bridge, we paused to enjoy Roughlock Fall’s lower cascading falls.
And a view of the upper Falls a little more distant.
After walking further into the small Park and along the boardwalk, we could clearly see the creek bed of Little Spearfish Creek down below. Note the crystal clear water.
The Park has a very nice network of walkways, complete with ramps, overlooks, and bridges across the creek. And PLENTY of picnic tables. I would also note, the park is very ADA compatible… with parking off Roughlock Falls Rd that easily accommodates wheelchair or assisted walking needs.
This hidden jewel of a picnic spot… is accessed by a bridge across the creek… It is a pocket of sunlight in a dense spruce wood… bright privacy. Indeed, just past the bushes on the left of the area, out of sight… is another picnic table with a young couple enjoying a private picnic. We took this picture and left it to them.
Alice & I found a comfortable picnic table and sat down to enjoy our pack lunch… and heard chirping above. Not sure what kind of bird this little guy is… he looked hungry. We did leave some crumbs for him in exchange for his Song.
After our lunch, and a little more looking around… it became time to head back. As we retraced our steps from the trip up, we again passed the lower cascading falls….
And then entered back into our quiet, peaceful, bright & green Trail….
This concludes our post about hiking to Roughlock Falls. The peacefulness of this trail, and accompanying scenery, is gentle enough to make it “just a stroll in the woods”… but beautiful enough and ‘mountainous’ enough to make it feel like a challenge. Thank you for viewing. Any questions or comments please feel free to contact us!
Jim & Alice LaPeer
To view a full-screen, high-resolution slideshow of Gentle Trail to Roughlock Falls, click the ‘curved arrow‘ just below the picture on the right. To return to normal display, hit [Esc] key. Otherwise, place cursor over the picture to display the slideshow control buttons. Comments are Welcomed!