After our adventure with the Community Caves, we ended up in Savoy at the Roughlock Trail trailhead. Roughlock Trail is only a mile long, and it borders Little Spearfish Creek on one side, while the road winds its way on the other side. The road is closed to “wheeled vehicles” (not snow machines) during winter months, so we hiked in on the road, which was a slushy, muddy mess.
The road in is an easy hike, without any steep grades and many gorgeous vistas of the soaring rock formations. So much beauty to marvel at! The greenest water plants were thriving in the frigid water, and little gems of rosehips still glimmered on their thorny stems, intermingled with the red bark of dogwood. And what a cloudless, blue sky! Jake insisted it was a Colorado blue sky, but Sarah pointed out that this is indeed South Dakota, making it, of course, a South Dakota blue sky! In the summer, the trail would be preferable to the road, but without vehicles the road was a beautiful, open walk.
Then of course there is the destination: Roughlock Falls is one of the more famous of the waterfalls in Spearfish Canyon, and possibly the most spectacular, with the tiered waterfall and lush greenery, even in the winter. Walking paths and boardwalks around the waterfall make for very easy access, and picnicking areas create a great destination spot. Of course, in the summer, this means lots of tourist traffic, but the Falls are most definitely worth a little traffic. There are no natural lakes in the Black Hills, but we have some awe-inspiring waterfalls. We came back on the Roughlock Trail, which we think was actually quicker than taking the road, in spite of the layer of ice on the top. We slid most of the way back, occasionally losing control and having to hurtle ourselves into snowdrifts or grab onto trees to keep from face planting. YakTrax would have been fantastic. The trail itself (without ice) is well maintained and a nice level grade overall with a few ups and downs, and a couple of benches along the way if you need to sit and rest. It isn’t at all strenuous. The trail is more enclosed than the road, so if picture-taking is your aim, you might find those landscape shots a little harder to get. I imagine in the spring and summer there are abundant wildflowers! That is certainly the case up around the falls, so I’m sure the trail boasts plenty of little jewels of that sort.
A worthwhile short hike.