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Cold Brook Canyon Trail

An out-and-back family-friendly hike popular for birdwatching.

Hiking Moderate

4.6 km
71 m
71 m
1-2 hrs
Low Point
1.3 km
High Point
1.3 km
Cold Brook Canyon Trail Map

Just minutes south of the main visitor center, Cold Brook Canyon Trail wanders through a beautiful canyon shouldered by stands of ponderosa pine. Remnants of a controlled fire are evident through much of the hike, and the barren hillsides host an active prairie dog community. Cold Brook is also widely considered one of the best places for birdwatching in the park. Though dogs are not allowed on the trail, this is a hike that everyone in the family will enjoy.


As the geographic center of the continent, Wind Cave is a permanent home to over 100 species of birds, the park states. Of course, spring and fall migrations yield even more, making it one of the best national parks for birding in the lower 48. In particular, Cold Brook Canyon offers "a good place to see prairie falcons and other raptors," while this source notes the "cliff swallows, horned owls, and a variety of woodpeckers," that also nest along the limestone cliffs.

With the visitor center is just moments away, the trail is often hiked as an out and back from the eastern trailhead, seen here. There is a small parking lot across the road from where the trail begins and another just a few hundred yards south. Neither restrooms nor potable water are available, though the visitor center has both year-round.

Sources: NPS OhRanger.com Black Hills & Badlands



Hiking along trails with some uneven terrain and small hills. Small rocks and roots may be present.

Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.


3 out of 4

Little chance of being seen or helped in case of an accident.

Best time to visit

all year round


  • Wildlife
  • Historical
  • Picturesque
  • Wild flowers
  • Family friendly
  • Forestry or heavy vegetation

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area