We like to encourage our runners to get out and enjoy the area where we hold our races, so we designate certain challenging and iconic activities in the park to be a part of our official club hikes and trifecta!
We have two hikes designated for the Mount Rushmore Half Marathon: Black Elk Peak and Crow Peak.
What do I get? Any runners that take the challenge and complete one of the designated hikes and submits their photo within 72 hours of running the race will officially join the club, and receive a commemorative medallion! All you have to do is take a picture of yourself at the designated location which includes:
These hikes are meant to be difficult and they can sometimes be dangerous. If you choose to attempt any of these hikes, you need to take them seriously. Please bring lots of water and always check the weather before heading out.
Black Elk Club
The Black Elk Club is a salute the hardcore among us. To join the club, hike Black Elk Peak. At 7,242 feet, this is the highest point east of the Rockies in the United States. The Lakota call the mountain “hinhan kaga” and regard it as sacred ground. It’s said to be the site where Lakota leader and medicine man, Black Elk received his famous vision, detailed in the classic book Black Elk Speaks.
The peak was used as a fire lookout tower from the early 1900s until 1967. Like many other historical buildings around the Black Hills, the fire tower was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. Today, Black Elk Peak is one of the area’s most popular hikes. Take your picture from the summit. Don’t forget your bib and finisher medal. There are two ways to do it:
Option 1- Highpoint Trail from Sylvan Lake You can summit/descend from trail #9 or #4. This is the most used approach to summit Black Elk peak.
Option 2- Willow Creek Trailhead This option has significantly fewer people on this trail. If you are seeking solitude, this is your best option.
The Crow Club is a salute the hardcore among us. To join the club, hike Crow Peak. Crow Peak is a key landmark in the Northern Black Hills. The name “Crow Peak” is an English translation of the Sioux name for the peak, “Paha Karitukateyapi,” which means “the hill where the Crows were killed.” The name stems from a battle between Sioux and Crow Indians in which the Sioux were victorious.
The trailhead is near Spearfish, SD about an hour North of Keystone.
Our race trifectas are comprised of 3 different activities. The Trifecta is meant to be challenging, but less strenuous than our club hikes. These are iconic activities inside the park that should be experienced, but are doable with children. The 3 activities that makeup the Mount Rushmore Half Marathon Trifecta are:
1. Walk the Presidential Trail
2. Hike Cathedral Spires Trail
3. Wildlife Loop Road
You must complete all 3 in order to complete the Trifecta. Same rules apply: take your picture at each of the 3 with your bib and finisher medal, make a collage of the 3 photos, and send it to us 72 hours after finishing the race. Those who complete the Trifecta will receive a commemorative pin!
1) Walk the Presidential Trail
This is the best way to get up close and personal with the mountain sculpture. Half of the short trail is closed due to renovations of the sculptors studio, but walking this trail is still very worthwhile. As a bonus, stay for the Evening Lighting Ceremony each night at 8:00 pm. Note: The northeast portion of this trail may be closed due to the current renovation of the Sculptor’s Studio.
Cathedral Spires Trail
2) Hike Cathedral Spires Trail
This is a moderately challenging hike that is steep in sections, but definitely doable with kids. The trail is 1.6 miles round-trip and 488 ft in elevation gain. With a trailhead on Needles Highway, be sure to finish the entire Needles Highway drive before or after your hike.
Wildlife Loop Road
3) Wildlife Loop Road
Wildlife Loop Road travels through 18 miles of open grasslands and is where much of Custer State Park’s wildlife calls home. Depending on the day and time of day, you might see bison, pronghorn, whitetail and mule deer, elk, coyotes, burros, prairie dogs, eagles, hawks, and a variety of other birds. A medley of colorful wildflowers and prairie grasses surround the road, make this a picturesque drive. Keep in mind, the animals are most active in the morning and evening hours. The drive is mostly 25 mph, so when making plans, expect a travel time of about 45 min. to complete the loop.
There is SO MUCH to do in the Black Hills. Here are some other hikes and activities that were recommended to us by those familiar with the area. Note that these are not substitutes for the club and trifecta activities. If you want to earn the medallion or pin, you will need to compete those specific hikes.
• Little Devils Tower
• Visit Crazy Horse Memorial
• Devil’s Bathtub in Spearfish Canyon
• Bear Butte - near Sturgis
• Spring Creek Loop
• Sunday Gulch
Other nearby destinations
• Wind Cave NP - 50 min. from Keystone
• Devils Tower NM - 2 hrs from Keystone
• Badlands NP - 1.25 hrs from Keystone