For those of us that live in the Black Hills we should consider ourselves lucky, a place where we literally have a giant outdoor playground just waiting to be explored. One place that you might want to consider taking your friends or your family to this weekend is a place called Devil’s Bathtub, in Spearfish Canyon.
I have provided a website that will link you to a map to help you navigate, “Take US 14 (Spearfish Canyon) out of Spearfish SD, pull off at Cleopatra Place, park your car before you cross the bridge, then start walking toward the creek and up” don’t worry you’ll find it.
The hike up to Devil’s Bathtub will only take you about 45 minutes and is absolutely beautiful! The trail is well worn and easy to follow, but be prepared to cross the creek a few times and possibly get wet feet. The area is stunning; there is a combination of birch and aspen trees, mixed with ponderosa pine and a handful of spruce. You are completely surrounded by steep cliffs and other unusual products of erosion.
As the stream flows down the mountain, it will form what look like a series of smooth water slides. Apparently, years ago, the water had formed a large pool deep enough to dive into. Today, a large boulder has appeared in the stream, effectively stopping visitors from sliding down. Sediment has also filled in the largest pool, making it only 5 or 6 feet deep.
In many cases the psychological benefits for hiking are far greater than the physical ones; because hiking is a great way to restore your peace of mind, but it’s also a great way to help you get in great shape this summer. Hiking is good for your heart, lungs, legs, ankles, feet and blood pressure. Getting cardio exercise, even at a moderate pace, is an easy thing to do when you are taking a walk, and where is it more beautiful than out on a trail?
The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of hiking, brisk walking, stair-climbing or other aerobic exercise “most days of the week.” For hiking beginners, it is recommended to start with a mile at three miles an hour pace, which will generally take you about a half-hour. Regular hikers might shoot for 5 to 10 miles a day for a decent workout.
Be sure to always wear sunscreen and a hat, one with a brim that covers your face to avoid sun burns. Also be sure to take along plenty of water or a sports drink such as Gatorade, even in cooler weather. It is best to take a liter for every three miles in cool weather and twice that at 75 degrees or warmer. For snacks you might want to carry some cereal bars or health bars, a piece of fruit and nuts.
The hike up to Devil’s Bathtub is definitely worth it. It’s one of those areas in the Black Hills that is not necessarily listed in any of the tourist guides, but is not necessarily a “locals secret” either. It’s a great place to relax and take your family this spring, you can all enjoy the great outdoors and the mountain air while getting in shape on the hiking trails.