Fall River County High Point Trip Report

Parker Peak (4,848 ft)

Date: October 26, 2001
Author: Michael Schwartz

The BIG problem here is access. The peak is surrounded by private property, and there is no sure means of access. John Mitchler is working on gaining access via a Nature Conservancy easement, but as of our last communication that had not firmed up. Since the peak is shown as being within the general confines of the Black Hills National Forest, I stopped at the National Forest office in Rapid City to inquire. I was referred to someone at a station further south who was familiar with Parker Peak, but had not been there. He knew access was difficult and gave me several names and numbers of ranchers who might be helpful. I can provide those on request. Preferring face to face contact, I drove down to Parker Peak to find a friend.

From the junction of US 18 and SD 89, the mountain was in plain view. Go south on US 18 about 2 1/2 miles, then bear left onto CR 185. The entrance road to the ranch of Mrs. Betty Miller is 0.3 mile south on CR 185. Look for a Quonset-hut shaped barn with a red front. This ranch is west and just south of Parker Peak's summit. Between 185 and the ranch, cross the George S. Mickelson trail, a lengthy, multiple use, rails-to-trail. The nearest trailhead and legal parking are off US 18, east of the SD 89 junction. The trail parallels Parker Peak, and does not help with access.

Mrs. Miller was home, and quickly granted me permission to hike. The whole mountain and environs had burned on September 29, and she had lost all her pasture grass. Since there was no fire danger, and the brush was down, she felt I could do no harm. She said this was a one-time deal, and that future permission would not be granted. She says that she and her neighbors have an informal agreement to restrict access because of fire danger and liability concerns. I was not able to budge her from this position.

I hiked the track road from behind her house to the base of the peak. Her border collie, "Cheetah," joined me and made the trip all the way to the summit. She happily shared my Cliff Bar and Gatorade. At the peak, I went right and gained the steep south ridge. This was a good scramble, made much easier by the recent burn. The fire was intense enough to crack many of the rocks on the mountain. In one place I even had to lift the dog over a four foot high ledge.

The summit is large and flat, with concrete footings from the former lookout tower. A USGS reference mark is easy to find 75' north of the tower. BM not found. Views of Harney Peak. Time to summit: 35 minutes.