This multi-use trail follows Iron Creek near Keystone through evergreen forest, aspen glades, and aspen meadows. The drive to the trailhead is its own reward: Iron Mountain Road is famous for its tunnels offering views of Mount Rushmore and for its pigtail bridges. We continued along Iron Mountain Road after our hike so that we could get the full benefit of this great Black Hills scenic drive.
Iron Creek Trail is pretty flat, making it a nice walk the day after a long, strenuous hike. It can be an out and back, or 2.5 miles one way if you have a chase vehicle.
There are 11 creek crossings (one way) that require you to cross the creek using a bridge, railroad tie or rocks. This delighted our German Shepherd, who took every opportunity to wallow in the cold, clear water. As you look into the creek, try to spot the tiny rainbow trout darting around the rocks.
Poison ivy is plentiful on this trail so long socks or pants are recommended. The combination of the poison ivy and the creek crossings is actually great for dog owners – your dog can wash off in the creek after brushing against the poison ivy that can be found everywhere along this trail.
Keep an eye out for beavers along the way. If you look closely, you can see the beaver dams built across the creek. We even saw a pair of beavers working on a new dam.
We were treated to several biomes and a bounty of wildflowers along the way, including Black-Eyed Susans and wild roses.
If you’re looking to cool off after your hike, cross Iron Mountain Road and head to Lakota Lake afterwards. This small lake is not usually overrun by tourists and is a great picnic or fishing spot.