Meade County High Point Trip Report

Date: January 1, 2004
Author: Jerry Brekhus

We approached from the west, the opposite direction of earlier trip reports.

Many Black Hills roads are plowed, so we were able to drive close, even in winter. A Black Hills National Forest map is helpful. Southeast of the town of Lead on US385, plowed Forest Road 534 heads east about 5 miles to FR151. The road marked 151 on the BHNF map is signed as Old Ridge Road. Old Ridge Road was unplowed, but fairly well-traveled. We drove a mile and a quarter south on 151 and parked near the primitive road to Virkula Gulch. We hiked on this unplowed road in ruts in the snow and then cross-country up on to the ridge which leads to high point. We passed spot elevation 5401 on its north side through some dog-hair timber. Its summit is a fairly prominent rock formation, visible from much of the hiking route that we used.

About a quarter mile past 5401 lies the summit of Meade County. We wandered around the summit area for some time. We found the pine tree with the pink ribbon mentioned by Mike Schwartz, which we agree is on the highest ground. The ribbon is not tied around the trunk, but around a branch, thus it is not visible from all sides. We did not find the cairn left by Dave Covill. Possibly the snow cover camouflaged it. Snow cover ranged from no snow at all on sunny slopes to 8 inches in some of the deeper shaded spots. We wandered around and found no place that gave a higher altimeter reading than at the pink ribbon.

On our return to the vehicle we went to the south side of 5401, which proved to be much easier travel. We soon discovered an ATV track which widened to a jeep trail and led back to the road.

We encountered no fence or creek crossings. Our hike was on National Forest land. In summer, one could drive to within a half mile of the high point.

COHP coordinates using Magellan GPS 2000XL readings near the pink ribbon:

(44° 17.265' N, 103° 34.295' W) using WGS84 datum
elevation 5,449 ft; 11:54 AM MST

Hiking statistics (winter): 3 miles round trip with 920 ft of elevation gain round trip (Suunto).