3 Mountain Bike Rides to Jump Start Your Black Hills Adventures
Memorable single track, sprinkled throughout the Black Hills, beckons the mountain biker. Where to begin?
Jump start your journey at Hanson-Larsen Memorial Park, which locals call M-Hill, right in the middle of Rapid City. With a box-of-chocolates assortment of trails to sample, you can spin the lethargy out of your legs and stoke your spirit for the adventures ahead.
Here are three warm up rides on Hansen-Larsen Memorial Park. Each should take about an hour for most folks, even stopping for pictures or catching your breath. Guaranteed that you’ll yearn to return.
1.Silky Smooth (west side climb to the M, to the top, and back)
This is a steady, rhythm climb up smooth, bench cut single track, with rewarding views at every pedal stroke. As a School of Mines grad, I love to stop at the “M” for the memories and for the view of the distant prairie stretching toward the Badlands. A short jaunt to the top reveals a stunning 360-degree view of Rapid City with Bear Butte to the north, Harney Peak, Cathedral Spires and Mount Rushmore to the southwest. After that visual feast, It’s smooth and flowing back downhill. Sure to be smiles all around.
Directions for Silky Smooth. Start at Founder’s Park, cross the bridge, immediate left onto Cowboy Hill Road; continue straight onto T Trail (the road veers right); at the large HLMP sign, continue straight on Far West; right on Sunset South to the “M”; stay straight at the intersection to stay on Sunset South; at a saddle intersection of several trails, left on Sunset North to the top and loop back to the saddle; back on Sunset South to reverse route back to the start.
2. Rougher Rider (east side climb to the top and rocky descent)
For the intermediate and advanced rider, this trail bolts right from the gate with five steeper switch backs, then rolls for a bit before climbing looser, rockier, steeper pitches to the top. A rocky, occasionally armored descent drops back to the rollers to return to the start.This is a more focused, technical climb and descent that is more like the relatively primitive single track common in the wilds of the Black Hills. Ride this to know better what to expect for your excursions out there.
Directions for Rougher Rider. Start at Founder’s Park, cross the bridge, continue straight onto the paved parking lot; left onto Far East; left onto Lower Wild Turkey; climb to saddle, right onto Sunset North; as Sunset North sweeps left, take the right onto Sun Climb; at the bottom, right on Far East to reverse route back to the start.
3. Rolling and Coasting (shoulder rolls along the east valley)
This is a series of sweet, twisty rollers on smooth, 38-inch-wide, bench cut single track. No sustained climbs. No real difficult terrain. Up and down along one shoulder of the east valley, a short switch back laden climb part way up and down the shoulder, more rollers, a short ridge line loop and then back along the other shoulder. It’s where to go when you want more than a single, longish climb and resulting descent and you only have an hour or so. Into the valley of flow.
Directions for Rolling and Coasting. Start at Founder’s Park, cross the bridge, continue straight onto the paved parking lot; left on Far East; right on Founder’s Valley; left on Founder’s Valley Connector; right on Far East; left on Horse Shoe; left on Far East; straight through intersection to Sunrise Loop; take left to go on the relatively easier clockwise loop; back at the intersection, left on East Founder’s Valley; left on Founder’s Valley; left on Far East to return to the start.