Community Caves Hiking Trail in Spearfish Canyon, South Dakota
Community Caves Hiking Trail is located in Spearfish Canyon, in the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota. We go to the Black Hills at least once a year, if not more at times. So on this particular trip I was wanting to find a trail that we hadn't ever done before. And boy am I so glad I did!
Community Caves is a short, but VERY STEEP, out-and-back hiking trail located just off of the Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway. In the summer, you are essentially hiking alongside a waterfall, but we went in the winter which meant the waterfall was frozen - an incredible sight!
Finding the trailhead can be tricky - so be sure to screenshot these directions, because getting cell service in the canyon is difficult as well.
How to find Community Caves Trailhead:
Assuming you are coming from Spearfish on Colorado Boulevard, take a right turn onto Highway 14A, also known as the Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway.
Reset your odometer and drive Highway 14A for 2.7 miles or until you see mile marker 13.
Continue around the next curve, and there will be a parking turn off area on the righthand side of the road. Park here.
Once parked, you have to cross the highway, so be sure to look both ways.
Head down the ditch and you'll see a creek. You have to cross this creek - which isn't deep, but moves very swiftly - so be prepared and have the proper shoes. In the winter, when we were there, the creek was frozen in some areas but not all. So we had to walk a bit further down to find an area that we could safely cross. Tall waterproof boots would have beens super helpful for this, but we didn't realize we needed them.
The trailhead is not clearly marked, but you should see a path that others humans and animals have walked. Continue on that path until you find a pile of rocks and carefully climb upwards. At the top, you should begin to see the actual trail a bit clearer!
In the winter months, I highly suggest wearing spikes on your shoes - which can be purchased in the ice fishing area at Cabela's. They wrap around the toe and heel of your boots. You could also bring trekking poles or an ice pick to help with slick spots. The climb is VERY steep - and that isn't an exaggeration at all.
We didn't have either of the items mentioned above and there were slips and falls along the way. We were a little nervous we wouldn't actually make the last 20 feet up because it was covered in a sheet of ice from the water fall. But with some careful footing we made it!!!!!!
The caves are so beautiful! You can see the anchors that climbers use to trek the cave walls and ceilings! It was really neat. Even during our winter hike, the waterfall was still trickling over the top of the cave but due to the freezing temperatures, it had created a frozen ice bowl that was incredible to see!
The views from the top are breathtaking as you look down onto the Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway. Well worth that 1/2 mile vertical trek! We can't wait to try it during the summer months as well! We will definitelybe back!