People go hiking for many different reasons. Sometimes finding a great view or hidden location is your goal. Sometimes simple physical activity is what you are looking for. And other times the simple feeling of solitude in nature is rewarding enough. If you are looking for a trail that will give you all of these things and more, then you’ve come to the right place.
The Old Baldy Trail is located southwest of Spearfish along Tinton Road. The trail itself is a seven mile loop, including a spur trail to the top of the small peak, Old Baldy. I have always taken the western leg of the loop at the start of my treks on this trail. Your path will take you through mixed stands of ponderosa pine, birch, and aspen. Ferns are everywhere in the undergrowth, and the entire trail just feels lush.
After descending down into a valley, you will finally be able spot Old Baldy itself to the north of the trail. You can complete the entire loop without venturing to the top of the peak, but I would recommend taking the extra bit of time to do so. The spur trail to the summit will add about a mile and a half to your trip, but you will be rewarded with views of Terry Peak, Cement Ridge, and the endless plains to the north. The elevation gain also is not too extreme.
The route back to the trailhead on the eastern leg will take you past the shores of Baldy Lake, which is nothing more than a dried-up stock pond. You will also travel through a massive and old aspen grove, a true highlight of the hike. After you leave the aspen grove, you will begin to ascend up and out of the valley, where you will return to pine forests and eventually back to the parking lot.
You will often find yourself completely alone on Old Baldy Trail. Its remote location and length means that most people will stay away. However, I think the hike is well worth the drive. If you are looking to spend a day in solitude, Old Baldy Trail is a great place to do it.