The Black Hills Travel Blog

Hiking Devils Bathtub

By • Sep 22nd, 2009 • Category: Outdoor Adventure

devil's bathtub joe's pic 623

I consider myself lucky to live in the Black Hills – a place where we literally have a giant outdoor playground just waiting to be explored. This past weekend brought a new adventure for me.

I’d heard a lot about a place called Devil’s Bathtub, in Spearfish Canyon, but had never made it out to explore it for myself. On Sunday we met some friends in Spearfish and headed out into the canyon. We had gotten some directions on how to find “the tub” from others who had been there before.

The directions sounded something like this, “pull off at Cleopatra Place, park your car before you cross the bridge, then start walking toward the creek and up – you’ll find it.”

Although a bit vague, those directions proved to be spot on. The hike up to Devil’s Bathtub only took about 45 minutes and was absolutely beautiful! The trail is well worn and easy to follow, but be prepared to cross the creek a few times and possibly get wet feet.

The area is stunning – a combination of birch and aspen trees, mixed with ponderosa pine and a handful of spruce – all surrounded by steep cliffs and other unusual products of erosion.

As the stream flows down the mountain, it has formed what look like a series of smooth water slides. Apparently, years ago, the water had formed a large pool deep enough to dive into. Today, a large boulder has appeared in the stream, effectively stopping visitors from sliding down. Sediment has also filled in the largest pool, making it only 5 or 6 feet deep.

We hung out in the area for quite a while, watching the trout and wading in the ice-cold water. I could have stayed there all day, just taking in the surroundings.

The hike up to Devil’s Bathtub was definitely worth it. It’s one of those areas in the Black Hills that is not necessarily listed in any of the tourist guides, but is not necessarily a “locals secret” either.

If you go, be sure to pack out anything that you take in and know that the first few yards of the trail are on private land, so tread lightly and enjoy.

About the Author

is a resident of Spearfish, S.D. He grew up in the tall-corn state of Iowa, where he developed an early interest in all things outdoors. After high school he moved to Vermillion, S.D., where he earned his bachelor’s degree in public relations and advertising. During his college years, two things caught his attention: the beauty of western South Dakota’s Black Hills and a girl from those Black Hills. After graduating from college, Joe traveled across the country as a recruiter for the University of South Dakota. He saw the sights from Pittsburgh to Las Vegas and everywhere in between, but it was the Black Hills (and the girl) that kept drawing him back. He and wife moved back to the Black Hills in 2008. He's an avid hiker, mountain biker and road cyclist whose future plans include trying to fit a pair of kayaks into the spare bedroom.
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