Sheepnose Mountain

Black Hills National Forest, Wyoming

Trip Date: Wednesday, September 19th, 2018
Last Updated: Wednesday, November 21st, 2018
By Ricky Holzer

Hike Information

Rating ★★★★★(5/5)
Overall Difficulty Moderate
Navigation Difficulty     Easy
Distance 4.6 miles roundtrip
Time 2 hours
Terrain Hilly
Best Seasons Spring, Summer, Fall
Family Friendly No
Dog Friendly Yes
Accessible No


Hike Summary

The Bearlodge Unit of the Black Hills National Forest is less visited than the other forest units in South Dakota, making this wilderness conveniently located along the drive to Devils Tower National Monument the perfect place to relax in seclusion. Sheepnose Mountain is one of the more remote hikes here, but the bumpy road and uphill climb rewards you with spectacular views. (Note: I didn't see these views myself due to fog and clouds but there isn't a single taller land mass to the east of this peak, so you should be able to see deep into South Dakota on a clear day). This hike is ideal for those who enjoy leaving the beaten path and trying a more adventurous, out-there hike to a place few people have seen.

The entire trail is very easy to navigate. Starting from the map kiosk, the trail starts as a one-lane road. Blue blazes with the letter M are found on trees throughout the hike; that letter M corresponds to the labels on a trail brochure you can pick up at the kiosk at Reuter Campground (and possibly the Reuter Trailhead) or the Black Hills National Forest office in Sundance.

Blue blazes with the letter M mark the Sheepnose Mountain Trail

Blue blazes with the letter M mark the Sheepnose Mountain Trail

The Forest Service leases much of the land in this unit as pasture, and you'll probably see cows on the drive here. You are most likely to see cows on the first section of the trail, since the terrain is mostly flat there. These cows seemed much more afraid of me than my previous experience at Sheyenne National Grassland, and they quickly ran into the forest when I walked by.
You may encounter cows grazing at some point along the trail

You may encounter cows grazing at some point along the trail

The road leads to a locked gate, where you'll see the trail marker pictured below. After this point, the trail begins descending at a gradual rate. Weirdly enough, the summit of Sheepnose Mountain is actually lower than your starting elevation, and the elevation profile of the hike is V shaped.
This brown marker indicates you are heading the right direction

This brown marker indicates you are heading the right direction

At the bottom of the hill, the trail intersects with the Sheepnose Trail, as pictured below. Continue straight here to follow the arrow pointing to Sheepnose Mountain. After this point, the trail will gradually start climbing until you end at the summit.
Follow the sign to Sheepnose Mountain

Follow the sign to Sheepnose Mountain

Partway up the mountain, you'll notice an area of pine trees planted in orderly rows, as pictured below. Unlike land operated by the Park Service, the Forest Service periodically logs its property (or more likely hires a contractor to log it) and replants the forest as evidenced here -- you can even see the rows of trees if you look at the satellite view of the mountain. In the fog, this place was especially eerie, like the forest out of a horror movie.
Pine trees planted in rows near the peak are especially creepy in the fog

Pine trees planted in rows near the peak are especially creepy in the fog

The trees begin to thin, and the trail becomes more overgrown and hard to find. Luckily, you can still rely on the blue markers in the few remaining trees to find your way to the top. At the summit, there will be several rocky outcrops like the one pictured below where presumably on a clear day you would have a tremendous view. Thanks to the clear cutting by the Forest Service, there are no trees to block your view -- only the fog can do that. Stay here for a while and enjoy your reward!
Fog dowsing the rock formations at the summit of Sheepnose Mountain

Fog dowsing the rock formations at the summit of Sheepnose Mountain

Simply turn around the way you came, paying attention and staying right when you reach the trail intersection. Overall, this peaceful hike seemed like a worthwhile experience, though clear weather would have made this trip much more noteworthy. Let me know what you think in the comments section below, and be sure to use #nocoastbestcoast on Twitter and Instagram!

Important Information

This remote trail is basically in the wild west, so you can have your dog off leash if you so desire, just note that cows may be grazing at any point along the trail and that a leash may be preferred. This is not a good trail for kids, so instead take them to Warren Peak Fire Lookout for easy views. You can hike here in the three warm seasons as long as the road to Warren Peak is open; in the winter access is much more difficult, but you could use the Sundance Trailhead on Government Valley Road for a very long approach with skis or snowshoes to Sheepnose Mountain. I doubt you will encounter anyone else on this trail, and you might not even see anyone on the dirt roads here either.


**Ensure that your navigation app follows this route or you might end up on rough, impassible, or closed roads!**

From Interstate 90 in Sundance, take the exit for U.S. Highway 14 and head west -- this is the same exit as used for Devils Tower National Monument. Turn right on Sundance-Warren Peak Road and continue straight to enter the Bearlodge Unit of the Black Hills National Forest. There is a gate partway up the mountain by the Reuter Trailhead that may be closed during inclement weather, prohibiting access to anything beyond. Turn right on a dirt road (labeled as 830.1 on the Motor Vehicle Use Map) just before the turnoff for Warren Peak Fire Lookout. This road is very narrow and rough in places; I survived the drive in a sedan, but I wouldn't recommend it if you actually like your car (I was in a rental). None of the dirt roads are marked, so pay attention and carry a map! Keep going straight, then stay right at the Y intersection ahead. A little further on the right side, you'll see the map kiosk for the Sheepnose Mountain Trail. I parked here rather than risking the one-lane road to the trailhead gate, but you can technically drive a bit more according to the Motor Vehicle Use Map. If you reach a four way intersection, you've overshot the trail.

Google Maps Directions

Parking, Fees, and Facilities

Parking is free! Either park by the map kiosk out of the way of the road or continue down the one-way road and park by the trailhead gate. There are no facilities here.

Nearby Hikes

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Warren Peak Fire Lookout
Black Hills National Forest, Wyoming
Joyner Ridge gives the best views of Devils Tower from a distance
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Seth Bullock built this tower by hand to honor his friend Teddy Roosevelt
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The view of Hell Canyon from the wooden platform
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External Links