U.S. Forest Service officials are considering formalizing parts of the popular unofficial trail known as Devil’s Bathtub. According to the Rapid City Journal, segments of the trail that are on Forest Service property may be used to designate a single route, which would reduce potential resource damage by users and could help ease navigation.
Currently, there is no official trail to the destination, which means hikers often follow a confusing conglomeration of different user-made paths. Knowledge about the site was originally passed by word of mouth, but social media has spread that word farther.
The unofficial “trailhead” is located eight miles south of Spearfish; a gravel parking lot off the Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway that is often packed with people during the summer months. From there it’s a short hike to Devil’s Bathtub, a natural swimming hole.
The parking lot rests on state-owned public land, while the rest of the path and the tub itself on are land belonging to the U.S. Forest Service. Nearby cabin-owners also access their properties via the road to the parking lot and have complained about congestion, litter, and trespassing by hikers.
Federal, state, and local officials are discussing a potential new parking area. The Forest Service is currently only considering designating the portion of the route that falls on Forest Service property, and would base the route on existing footpaths, with those outside the designation area to be reseeded and blocked off. State officials are delaying any decision on their portion of the trail until after the Forest Service decides on the designation, which could happen this fall.
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