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This 1.5-mile loop, built and maintained by local boy scouts, begins at the north side of the Sawmill Shelter—plenty big for a pre- or post-hike picnic. To begin, cross the grassy area and follow the gently sloping trail south. You’ll notice evidence of selective logging and restoration efforts alongside the trail before it turns sharply uphill at mile 0.25. It’s a short climb to a saddle along the ridge where this route turns right to wander around the prominent butte just a few hundred feet away. To continue on the loop, follow the trail south along the ridgeline. Keep an eye out for deer and wild turkeys as the trail widens into a meadow near the Black Hills Overlook Road. Before reaching the road, turn left onto an easy downhill path that cruises an open valley to close the loop.
Note: If you’re hiking with small kids, consider skipping the butte-top section of this route where loose rocks and steep cliffs add an element of danger to this otherwise easy hike.
-Mapped by Kristy Holland
- Distance: 2.4
Location: 42.709143, -103.0231199
Follow the wide, mowed trail north from the Sawmill Shelter. You’ll pass the outhouse and parallel the park road, which is barely visible through the trees.
Location: 42.70921, -103.0237019
Turn right to start the counter-clockwise loop.
Location: 42.7118943, -103.0255794
Stop for a quick look across the valley before climbing the trail up the steep hill on your left.
Location: 42.7116499, -103.0263573
At the saddle, turn right to spend a few minutes exploring the butte top. From this point, the main trail heads south on a rocky ridgeline just above the park’s western boundary.
Location: 42.7124303, -103.0265558
The crumbling rock ledges around the butte are fun to explore, but pick your way carefully around the steep ledges and cliffs.
Location: 42.7079289, -103.026191
Look for trail maintenance activity and fallen trees on the ridgeline. The trail winds around the small obstacles, and continues rolling south.
Location: 42.7046491, -103.0240345
You’ll see the Black Hills Overlook Road ahead, but this service-road-style trail turns left before reaching it. You’ll join a mowed path leading downhill through an open ravine. Look for the birdhouse that marks the trail.
Top of Steamboat Butte
Location: 42.712387, -103.0270359
Location: 42.709143, -103.023085
Location: 42.7103807, -103.0242115
These blue marks help identify trees of different sizes and ages. Trees with the marks are spared during selective logging in the park.
Location: 42.7118943, -103.0255365
Looking north toward the buttes below the Black Hills Overlook Trail.
Top of Steamboat Butte
Location: 42.7124008, -103.0268294
The top of Steamboat Butte is fun to explore, but drops steeply away on both sides. Watch your step!
Location: 42.7122806, -103.0265316
The rocky ledges on the base of the butte.
Location: 42.7094662, -103.0254292
Location: 42.7090247, -103.0257511
This is one of the few trails in the park that isn’t marked with blazes. This caution tape led the way for a short section of trail along the ridge, but the well-trod path is generally easy to follow.
Location: 42.7079289, -103.026073
The trail winds around this fallen tree alongside the trail.
Location: 42.7046491, -103.0239272
Approaching the top of the hill, look for the small, white birdhouse that marks the turn downhill.