Shredding in the Black Hills
NO, I don’t mean some kind of large scale logging operation, I mean ripping down some seriously awesome single track! I’ve lived in the Black Hills of South Dakota since my early childhood, back when I got my bike from a local guy who assembled it with spare parts from my dad’s junk pile. I remember riding the bike path through town all the way to Canyon Lake Park; And I have had a love for biking ever since. Nowadays I get my bikes from a local guy I affectionately refer to as “the gnome”, who has set up shop using quality parts. And my playground is now the vast expanse of terrain that is The Black Hills. I’m talkin’ over 800 miles of quality single track, dual track, and the Mickelson Trail Rails-to-Trails system. The trails range from the extreme difficulty of the French Creek trailhead to Iron Creek lake section of the Centennial Trail (I still have not made it without walking parts) to the quiet and calm cement bike path that runs along Rapid Creek and touches most of the parks in Rapid City. There are way too many trails to list so I’ll highlight some of my favorites.
Dalton Lake Trail, which is part of the Centennial Trail, offers a varied range of skill levels with sections of great switchbacks through the pines, a gnarly rock section (when the stream is not high), and casual dual track that changes into an intimidating single track on the edge of the canyon. It’s only 6 miles to Dalton Lake which makes for a great short ride to then cool off in the water and head back. Or you can go the additional 6 miles to the Elk Creek Trailhead.
Alkali Creek Trail, again is a section of the Centennial Trail that has great diversity.Technical uphill with sections of sandy soil giving your calves all the pump you could want. Awesome vistas once you reach the top, and a super flowy downhill back to the trailhead. This is a great afternoon loop.
Tinton Trail, is part of the Dakota Five-0 course, an amazing system that hundreds of people, from all over the country ride every year. Tinton is flowy, diverse, and sublime. Think of riding a Star Wars speeder through the forest of Endor, yup it’s the same feeling cruzin’ this trail.
This is just a small sample of the great trails this region has to offer! Other greats are, Bone Connector, Victoria’s secret, Old Baldy and the mysterious Fight Club (only those who have ridden it can tell you where it is). The trails are managed by locals who are part of the Black Hills Mountain Bike Association (BHMBA) and a shout out to them, they do a great job maintaining the trails and keeping us informed of local events!