Spearfish has long been called the “Queen City,” largely due to the three prominent peaks that surround it like the points of a queen’s crown. The three mountains are Crow Peak, Spearfish Mountain and Lookout Mountain. All three are accessible by foot, but Lookout is by far the easiest.
Lookout Mountain sits just east of the town of Spearfish and is one my favorite easy day-hikes in the northern Black Hills. Not nearly as high as some of the other peaks in the region, Lookout Mountain has an elevation of 4,452 feet, only 800 feet or so above the town itself.
Don’t let its relatively moderate elevation gain fool you, though. The views from the top are incredible! The majority of Lookout Mountain is public land, and is actually part of the Spearfish city park system.
There are two main trailheads that will put you on a path to the top. The most common one is located on the western base of the mountain at Interstate-90, Exit 14. The other main trailhead is located on the eastern base, at the end of Pony Express Lane in the Sandstone housing development.
From either trailhead, just follow the well-worn path and head uphill. There is no wrong way to go. A number of smaller paths spider-web out and criss-cross Lookout Mountain and almost all of them will eventually get you to the summit. Atop Lookout, there are a few communication towers, so as long as you continue to head for them, you’ll know you are on the right track.
The terrain varies from steep and rocky to more gradual and pine-covered. Once you reach the top, be sure to walk a few hundred feet to the west of the towers for a great panoramic view of the town of Spearfish below and Crow Peak to the west.
Take your time and soak in the views from every direction. On a clear day you can see all the way to Belle Fourche in the north and Terry Peak in the south. The photo above is one that I quickly snapped last fall while mountain biking down the southeast side.
Hiking Lookout Mountain round-trip can easily be done in an hour or two by most people. The area is a peaceful retreat nestled above the busy interstate and growing city below. Lookout really is one of my favorite little hikes and I spend a fair amount of time up there; check it out – maybe I’ll see you at the top.