Wind Cave National Park
Lookout Point Trail loop

Stream crossing in the canyon

I had run into descriptions of the trails on this hike over the years and never really had the sense that it had all that much to offer.

When I eventually decided to hike this trail, I was slowed down by bison encounters to the point where I had to turn back or risk an encounter in the dark. Finally this year my son and I made the entire loop, and I was astounded at the beauty that surrounded us as we walked across the high rolling prairie and then descended into the canyon.
This is a quiet scenic hike with long and interesting views.

Take US 385 north from Hot Springs South Dakota approximately 12 miles to the junction with South Dakota Hwy 87.
Take a right onto SD 87 and go north 0.6 miles to the right hand parking lot turnout for the Centennial Trail.
Coordinates for the hike: 43.5814200,-103.4837800
Parking / Trailhead amenities
The gravel parking lot has room for a half dozen cars or so. There is an informational kiosk and no other facilities in the parking lot.
Keep an eye out as you prepare for your hike - bison have been known to wander through.
Trail observations
Lookout trail leaves the parking area from the right hand side as you face the kiosk. The trail descends to cross a stream, and then climbs the far side to a high meadow. After a long walk, the trail reaches a junction and then descends into the canyon. Follow the canyon back to the trailhead. You will be on Centennial trail for the last couple miles of the hike.
Every time I've been on this trail I've seen bison. Stay aware of your surroundings, and be prepared to either wait for the bison to move, or to take a detour around the bison. Give yourself a lot of room - don't get too close!
Trail statistics
The trail is 5.46 miles long. The sum of all the uphill climbs is 290 feet.
Trail waypoints
0.00 miParkingParking Lot
0.04 miTrailhead Trailhead
0.87 miPrairie DogsPrairie Dogs
2.32 miGo straightContinue on #4 trail straight and a bit left to go down into the pines
2.41 miHeading inHeading into a ravine
2.49 miMarkerTrails 4 and 7 marker
3.12 miHead leftIntersection - head left up the canyon
3.66 miStay leftBranch - stay left and head towards Norbeck Dam
5.46 miEnd of trailEnd of trail
Trail map - Lookout Point Trail loop
Altitude chart - Lookout Point Trail loop Parking Head left Stay left End of trail
Difficulty: Easy
Terrain: Canyon
Terrain: Hilly
Trail surface: Dirt
Trail surface: Grassy
Type: Loop
View: Open
View: Wooded
State: South Dakota
Country: United States of America
Centennial Trail brochure (PDF)
Great Trail writeup
Wind Cave National Park site
Printable trail map in PDF format (20 Mb download)
Printable trail map in PNG format (3 Mb download)
Waypoints in CSV format
Waypoints in KML format
Instructions on using a trail description page
Instructions on using a trail map printout
Trails in the surrounding area
Trailheads for Montana South Dakota, and Wyoming (2 additional trails)
Trailheads for Montana North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming (5 additional trails)
Trailheads for Nebraska South Dakota, and Wyoming (2 additional trails)
Trailheads for Nebraska South Dakota, and Wyoming (5 additional trails)