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Description of Roughlock Trail

Rim photoA one-mile walk into the inner-soul of nature is what the visitor will experience on the handicapped accessible Roughlock Trail. The $77,000 trail was a cooperative venture between the U.S. Forest Service, South Dakota Community Foundation, and the Spearfish Canyon Foundation. The trailhead is located at the end of the Lodge parking lot.

You pass through what seems a magical curtain of space and time where you immediately release your feverish thoughts and enter a tranquil world of nature's orchestration. The soft flow of cascading water, the gentle rustling of the forest leaves, and a myriad of bird trills, are interspersed with many, most welcomed, sounds of silence.

As you walk the gradual incline, you quickly notice the cool, crisp stream, a multitude of willow thickets, and the vast array of Pine, Spruce, Birch, Aspen, and Oak trees, native berries, and wildflowers. Soon you hear the rush of the first, among the many, waterfalls spilling from a dam and see an emerald pond filled with moss and watercress. The frequent visitation of Blue Heron and ducks will often capture your attention.

Look back to the horizon and catch a glimpse of a Golden Eagle from the canyon walls you earlier left behind. The Golden Eagle, Red-Tailed Hawk, and the occasional Bald Eagle often soar the area.

After a brief rest on a trail bench and a moment at the second of seven shaded rest stops along the trail, you enter the deep forest surrounded on all sides by gigantic spires of timber which nearly block the view of the sky.

You turn a corner and there, in front of you, almost magically, the forest canopy disappears, and a large, green, open meadow with lush vegetation and the bright rays of the sun emerges. The meadow with its broad wetlands is an open invitation to the many song birds that frequent the area for food and water. Notice the many springs which trickle underneath the trail to the marsh below.

Leaving your fourth rest, you rapidly feel a quick chill as you are engulfed by huge mossy boulders on either side. An eerie sense overtakes you as the rocky ledges above your head create a tunnel through the earth. As you are about to leave this serene area, you hear the roar of rushing water echoing off the limestone walls ahead.

The roar grows louder and louder, and after a few corners, you feel the spray of mist that permeates the air. One more corner and there, in front of you, you witness the massive waters of Little Spearfish Creek spilling from the imposing rocks above -- Roughlock Falls. It is one of the most breathtaking scenic vistas of your journey. Enjoy the moment. Notice the dark blue long-legged birds dripping about you ... the unique American Dipper.

After crossing the forty-foot pedestrian bridge in front of the falls -- a great photo opportunity -- the trail inclines to the top where public picnic and parking facilities are available. Truly, one of America's premiere nature hiking trails.