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Description of Spearfish Falls Trail

Trail photoIn the fresh early morning breeze or afternoon glow of the warm sunlight, a walk on the 20-minute Spearfish Falls Trail is assured to restore even the weariest of travelers.

You enter the trailhead from the deck of the Latchstring Restaurant and follow the rim of the canyon to your left. Within twenty feet, you soon see the welcoming Trailhead sign and a panoramic perch offering a spectacular view of the canyon and the sparkling waters of Spearfish Creek 80-feet below. At eye level is the crown of massive Spruce trees and limestone cliffs spiraling skyward to meet the clouds. As you have the Trailhead and start down the meandering path, you pass an area reminiscent of the seashore as you see thousands, perhaps millions, of miniature snails. They are named Oreo Helix, and are being studied as a threatened species. As you continue your gentle decline along the path under a tranquil canopy of Ponderosa and Aspen, you soon see rocks of curious green. It's a garden of moss, living vegetation, taking their nourishment from microscopic life as it exists on the canyon floor.

Soon you open to a small, lush, green meadow where the night before a family of Whitetail Deer had nestled for their slumber. Ahead, you see willows, some as high as houses, and hear the soft rush of water. About a hundred fee further, you feel a cool gentle breeze and see a bridge peeking out from the colorful vegetation of a riparian habitat. Surrounding you in royal colors are various berry bushes like the Chokecherry, Elderberry, Gooseberry, and Snowberry. A chorus of white, yellow and purple violets, lilies, daisies, and other wildflowers greet you as you enter the bridge that spans the rushing waters of Spearfish Creek.

Look below the clear water -- the green vegetation and the rich aquatic life that dwells in the setting. Brook Brown and Rainbow trout can often be seen and often caught by the skilled fly-fishermen.

Further on you notice old stands of decaying timber, feel warm from the rays of the sun, and become aware of the vast array of birds that have been heard since the start of your journey. Goldfinch, Grosbeak, Mountain Blue, and warblers are but a few of the nearly one-hundred varieties of the forest avian life. Look high, above the towering cliffs and you might see the sprawled wings of a Golden Eagle or Red-Tailed Hawk.

A cooling shadow, like the clouds blotting out the sun, rise to meet you as you continue your walk into the dark and enchanting ancient forest of Spruce trees over one-hundred and twenty feel tall.

Soon you hear the rush of water cascading above you and feel the spray of mist as you enter a deciduous forest of Aspen and Birch trees. Quickly, from a clearing, you see the massive spill of water roaring over the ledge above -- Spearfish Falls. This is the spring-fed waters of Little Spearfish Creek, having passed over Roughlock Falls a mile west of here, now joyfully joining the waters of Spearfish Creek.

After basking in the sunlight and mist of the falls, your journey continues through 400-feet of primitive terrain and up a rocky ledge to the rim of a one-hundred and twenty foot gorge. A beautiful bridge spans the gorge crossing with the rushing rapid of Spearfish Creek below. You can see minute glimpses of the falls through the trees.

From the other side of the gorge, a four-hundred foot groomed trail leads along the Byway to a thirty foot arched bridge that spans Little Spearfish Creek just before it spills into Spearfish Creek 80-feet below. This is Spearfish Falls from the top.

The 3/4-mile trail provides convenient access to some of the lushest vegetation, rich diversity of wildlife, panoramic views of the high walls, and scenic water displays in the canyon. The $87,000 trail was funded by the Spearfish Canyon Foundation with grants from the South Dakota Games, Fish & Parks Department, and Homestake Mining Company.