The Devil’s Bathtub trail follows along Squaw Creek through a rugged canyon filled to the brim with absolutely beautiful scenery.
The trail starts off easy enough, but as it snakes along the creek it gets very rugged very quickly. Almost right away you must cross the creek, which was inches deep in some areas but slightly deeper in others. I am guessing at certain times of the year it would be deeper. I would say I had to cross the creek at least 5 times. There are rocks to step on as you cross, but I guarantee you will get wet at one of the crossings! If you played Frogger growing up, it might come in handy on this hike, or maybe Pitfall if you bring a rope along to swing across the creek.
Not far into the hike something caught my eye and I turned to see a pretty good-sized bird walking underneath some bushes. My first thought was what the heck is a pheasant doing in the Black Hills? When I got a better look, I saw it was a Ruffed Grouse. I have seen pictures of Ruffed Grouse, but this was the first one I have seen in “real life”. I was able to sit and watch him, but it was hard to get a decent photo with all the branches in the way.
The only other wildlife I saw on the hike was a squirrel, and quite a few little Brook Trout in the deeper holes of the creek. I did hear a Blue Jay off in the distance.
As you hike further into the canyon the creek flows over solid rock that has been worn smooth over “billions” of years. The canyon walls almost have a layered look, where the creek eroded away the rock creating jagged shelves. It was at this point in the hike where my dry clothes become wet. It looked innocent enough, but I miscalculated the wet rock, the wet leaves and probably the layer of slippery moss and I slipped while stepping across the creek. The horrible part was that it was so slippery I absolutely couldn’t get my footing to get back out! I started to slide down the creek like I was on a slippery slide from Hell. I was finally able to pull myself up and out of the creek, but the entire right side of my body was wet, along with both my shoes. Even though it’s only 35 degrees, as you keep hiking your wet, cold feet start to warm up very nicely.
So, I decided to keep going even though I almost died. The one nice thing about getting old, is that your mind still thinks you are in your 20’s. Onward!
I hiked on and finally reached the Devil’s Bathtub. Actually, I hiked past it at first because I thought if I stopped, I would freeze. I kept going because I thought the Devil’s Bathtub would be a deep rocky pool, where people could dive off the cliffs into the cool refreshing water. The main pool was only a few feet deep, maybe 4 feet deep in another pool. Maybe not a good idea to dive into that I guess. Again, maybe at certain times of the year a person could jump in when the creek is flowing better. In the hot summer months, wading around in the pool sounds refreshing.
I took some videos and more photos, and then started the hike back. I ended up falling one more time, slipping on a rock again. I picked my wet, cold, muddy body up and at least finished the hike with no broken bones. I look forward to taking the hike again, maybe in the summer next time. I would also like to try some fly fishing for those Brook Trout.