Iron Creek Trail, Spearfish Canyon

On a gorgeous, blue-skied April day, we ventured up Iron Creek Trail in Spearfish Canyon, attempting to locate two geocaches named Pettigrew Gulch (GCRD8D). You can find the trail by driving through Spearfish Canyon. The trailhead has a large, dirt parking area about one mile north of Savoy, near mile marker 22.

Iron Creek
Iron Creek in the fall

Iron Creek Trail was once a road before it was destroyed by a flood and therefore, is an easy, serene stroll. The trail follows Iron Creek, which has a picturesque, moss-covered bed with crystal-clear flowing water. On each side of the path and creek are tall, steep mountains. There are gold claims up and down this trail, so you may spy an abandoned mine once or twice along the hike. The foliage during summer and fall are certainly the highlights of hiking through this area.

Mine Iron Creek

On our quest to find these geocaches, we followed another less-traveled dirt trail, which could be mistaken as a deer trail. This path was about a third of a mile up Iron Creek Trail on the right hand side. Not only did we find the geocache, but various natural arches. Petigrew Gulch Path The views from the geocaches and the arches are amazing, and many neighboring peaks are visible. If you attempt this trek up the hillside, bring gloves, as you will be climbing with not only your feet, but also your hands. We were fortunate enough to hike Pettigrew Gulch during the early spring, as the hillside would be inaccessible when icy. On the other hand, the northern hillside is relatively barren and therefore, quite sunny.This leaves me to believe other reports, which say the hillside is covered with poison ivy during the summer and fall. Be extremely careful when coming up and down the gulch. The soil is loose and many rocks come free easily. I happened to dislodge a basketball-sized rock, which rolled off the cliff and down the hill into a rock field. Had there been someone below me, this rock could have seriously injured or even killed someone. Coming back down was, by far, the most dangerous part of the hike. Be wary of not only rocks and boulders, but also thorny plants.

Hole in the Wall
Hole in the Wall

To find the second geocache, we trekked up the southern slope, which, in contrast, was heavily overgrown and much less traveled, with no trails. In fact, the last person who found the second stage of the Pettigrew Gulch geocaches did so in October 2014. Make sure you look out for the oddly shaped mushroom rock!

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In conclusion, the hike up Pettigrew Gulch was stunning. However, not only were the treks up to both geocaches and Hole in the Wall difficult and dangerous, but the peaks themselves were a bit treacherous. Do not go close to the edge! Make sure you are prepared with water, gloves, and, a backpack to put everything in and you will have a wonderful adventure ahead of you!

-Audrey

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