Hiking Old Baldy Mountain, Black Hills National Forest, SD
You can’t believe everything you see on a postcard about the back of Mount Rushmore. That’s actually a good thing; the scenery is much better in real life.
Take, for example, Mount Baldy. Sure, the name could benefit from some PR, but the views from the top are hard to beat. And hard to reach. Mount Baldy is primarily a granite bouldering area.
Which isn’t to say you can’t hike it. But you better bring some sturdy shoes, maybe some lightweight gloves and a good amount of water if it’s at all warm out.
Also, it’s hard to find. The basic directions are to take Old Keystone Road (or Old Hill City Road, depending on which way you’re coming from), and turn on Lafferty Gulch Road. From there, you take the gravel road probably about a quarter to a half a mile until you reach a brown cabin with a garage. It’s all Forest Service land, so you don’t have to worry about trespassing on anyone’s private property. You can park next to the garage, and from there, head into the trees. The path isn’t well marked, but if you pay attention, you can avoid getting lost.
Largely, you head uphill until you reach the base of the granite. After that, it’s a matter of mountain-goating – and bear crawling, in some places –your way up and down various rock faces, trying to find the easiest routes until you reach the top.
Sound like a lot of work? It is.
Is it worth it? Depends on how much you like panoramic 360 views of pretty much all of the Black Hills.