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Officials consider making Devil’s Bathtub an official trail

September 22, 2018

SPEARFISH, S.D. (AP) — U.S. Forest Service officials are considering a proposal to turn a little-known hiking trail in the Black Hills National Forest into a recognized attraction.

Northern Hills District Ranger Steve Kozel is looking into the project to make Devil’s Bathtub a designated hiking trail, the Rapid City Journal reported.

“This area is a popular hiking destination in the summer but no official trail exists, resulting in hikers following a confusing network of user-created routes,” Kozel said. “Designation of a single route would reduce potential resource damage and would ease navigation.”

Devil’s Bathtub’s unofficial trailhead is about 8 miles (13 kilometers) south of Spearfish along the Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway. The route has become more popular in recent years after being shared on websites, social media and smartphone apps.

The trailhead, which is a small gravel parking area, leads to a short but adventurous hike to the “tub,” which is a swimming hole with a natural rock slide. The trailhead is on state-owned public land, while the rest of the hike and the Devil’s Bathtub itself are on public land owned by the U.S. Forest Service.

The federal agency is considering designating its portion of the hiking route, as federal, state and local officials discuss issues with the trailhead.

Residents living near the gravel parking area have complained that the lot has become congested in recent years, making it difficult for cabin owners to enter and exit their property.

John Kanta of the state Department of Game, Fish and Parks said the state is delaying a decision until after the Forest Service decides whether it’ll designate a trail on federal land.

“We’re taking a backseat, but we understand there are a lot of issues there,” Kanta said. “Right now, the way we see it, it’s an attraction and a trail that exists primarily on Forest Service property, and we’re kind of stuck in the middle.”

Kozel said the agency hopes to make the decision this fall. Work to designate the trail could start next spring or summer, he said.

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Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com

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