Getting to Harney Peak is a lot of fun. There are several routes. Here is a favorite loop from Sylvan Lake’s trailhead parking lot past Little Devils Tower, the Cathedral Spires and on to Harney Peak. The spur trail to Little Devils Tower and the rock scramble to the top are easy to do and worth the time and effort. The view from the top of Little Devils Tower is great. The trail passes close to the Cathedral Spires with opportunities for some rock scrambling to get views and maybe even see some climbers on the spires. Then it is on to Harney Peak, the highest point between the Rocky Mountains and the Alps. The return trip is via Trail 9 South directly to Sylvan Lake. Trail 9 South goes downhill to the creek, then uphill to a fantastic viewpoint for the peak as shown in the first photo below. Then the trail goes downhill to Sylvan Lake. If you take Trail 9 North for about 200 feet, you will see one of the most important trail signs in the Black Hills. It says “This is not the Trail to Sylvan Lake” and has prevented many searches for lost hikers since it was installed. Here is a pdf map I made so the trail are approximate.
In September 2013 and 2014, the Forest Service had week long work projects for some restoration work on HarneyPeak Lookout Tower. The team of Forest Service employees and volunteers replaced 16 windows in the lower sections of the tower, replaced the observation deck flooring, repaired mortar, painted, and found stairway rocks that had been thrown off the mountain side. The structural supports and deck for the third floor lookout room will be installed and the lookout room windows will be replaced in 2015 if funding is secured. These are photos of our experience the week of Sept 9 to 13, 2013.
DJ and I both hauled water to these trees in the fall and spring after they were planted. DJ pointed out that there appeared to be a path to cut the switchback in the left of this photo. I placed a bunch of branches across that area to stop people from walking there. No one had been through there for quite a while, but they will not go there now.