guest blog post by Josh Morrison
Growing up on a farm in eastern South Dakota I have some pretty strong memories about summer trips to the Black Hills. I clearly recall the dry pine scented air, the red dirt in the Spearfish area, and Friendship Monument on Mount Roosevelt.
As a kid I was fascinated with the almost castle-like structure out in the forest. The 32-foot tower in the woods was proposed by Seth Bullock as a memorial to Theodore Roosevelt. The Society of Black Hills Pioneers built the tower and dedicated it on July 4th, 1919. And, recent restoration and preservation efforts ensure that Friendship Monument will there for many years to come.
The loop trail to the Tower is located at the Black Hills National Forest Mount Roosevelt Picnic Area. The trail is about 3/4 of a mile long, with an elevation gain of 180 feet from the parking lot to the monument. Even if Friendship Tower didn’t exist, this is worthwhile hike. There are amazing view of the plains and surrounding peaks. From the viewing platform near the tower you can see nearby Spearfish, plus the Bearlodge Mountains in Wyoming and views of the plains all the way to North Dakota. From other parts of the trail Bear Butte, Terry Peak, Custer Peak, Harney Peak and the cities of Lead and Deadwood are all visible.
Today, I enjoy taking visitors and my own children up to Mount Roosevelt. This is the perfect hike for people of all ages. The trail is short and easy, but the vistas are spectacular. It is a memorable hike that everyone is sure to enjoy (and it is free). You can make and afternoon out of the visit and pack a lunch to enjoy at the picnic area. There is a vault toilet available, but no fresh water.
Getting to the picnic area is pretty simple. From Deadwood head North on Highway 85 for just over a mile and then turn left on Mount Roosevelt Road (also the turn for the Lodge at Deadwood). Continue on the road for about two miles to the parking area. The first portion of the road is paved, the second part gravel. The gravel road is not plowed in the winter, so save this for the summertime.
If you feel like doing a bit more hiking, visit the grave of Seth Bullock. It is located just across the gulch above Deadwood’s Mount Moriah. Seth requested to be buried above the cemetery with a view to Mount Roosevelt.
For a video driving tour from Deadwood to Mount Roosevelt, check out this link http://youtu.be/qs84Poznd_Q.
Josh Morrison grew up on a farm near Mitchell. He and his family have called Deadwood home for over a decade now. They love to get out and enjoy the Black Hills whenever they can.