White Rocks towers above Deadwood and the view makes it worth every step it takes to get there. The stones in the road might try and stop you from making it to the top but a set of good tires, or an undeterred climber won’t be stopped. Photos will astound and a shout from the top may seem necessary, it probably is.
Few people know that this incredible hike exists. White Rocks is a hike that ends up at the white rocks that you can view if you look south from the streets of Deadwood. They are literal rock formations that have become a hike.
How do you get to White Rocks?
There are several paths that will take you to the base of the rock. The easiest route is via Sampson Street. After a couple miles on this road, you will come to a lone garage on the right hand side of the road (coming from Deadwood), which has a gravel road leading away from it. If your vehicle is tough enough, you can actually follow this road right up to the base of the rocks. Your “hike” becomes a matter of steps and a bit of climbing if you choose to do this. I usually park near the garage, being very careful to respect the housing and private properties in the area, and hike/walk the road up to the rocks. This is roughly a two mile hike one way.
Another route, and probably the most common, is via Mount Moriah cemetery. To go this route you follow the signs in the cemetery to the grave of Seth Bullock. There is a service road that leads away from this grave and you follow this to the top. The climb from this direction is fairly steep and I would rate it more moderate to difficult. It is a short hike, but mostly vertical.
What is the White Rocks trail like?
The first route to White Rocks is a gravel road the entire trek. You see the backside (south side) of the mountain and have wide views of the devastation that remains from the Grizzly Gulch fire that ran through Deadwood in 2002. You come to the base of the rocks after a couple miles and can follow the path up to the top of the rocks. It is a climb onto boulders so not for the faint of heart, but a pretty good trail has be made by the previous explorers.
The second route is much shorter. You must enter the cemetery, which does have a fee. The walk through the cemetery is fairly easy and has mostly flat, paved surfaces. Once you get to the Bullock grave, you wander onto a service road. The rest of this hike does remain fairly vertical, but not an extreme length. The road is gravel/dirt packed.
The animals you may encounter include but are not limited to: deer, big horn sheep, mountain lions, and elk. I have seen several carcasses along the southern trail. Most likely, a mountain lion’s doing, so be alert. There are mostly Ponderosa Pine, Aspen, and Birch trees in the area. Many wildflowers can be spotted as well. The south route has little tree covering along the trail so it can be a very warm, sun exposed hike. Be prepared.