Black Hills of South Dakota Family Trip
The Black Hills of South Dakota rise above the plains and create a cool summer environment, perfect for riding the twisty turny terrain found here.
Black Hills National Forest includes lots of fun singletrack trails and dirt roads rolling through spruce groves and grassy meadows. Goldenrod and Echineacea grow wild everywhere, along with all kinds of sunflowers.
The itinerary includes great sections of the Centennial Trail and the Deerfield Trail just outside of Silver City, South Dakota. Every camp is on a beautiful lake, making this singletrack and camping heaven. And to top it off, on day three we take a party barge out on the lake for swimming.
The Black Hills tour is a great trip with fun singletrack and lots of swimming opportunities.
After meeting in Rapid City, we will head to the impressive Mount Rushmore National Monument. This “Shrine of Democracy” presidential memorial was finished in 1941 to symbolize freedom and hope for America. Leaving Mount Rushmore we will head further in to the “hills that are black” as described by the Lakotan words Paha Sapa. Within the rugged rock formations of the Black Hills, there are lovely lakes and reservoirs, canyons and bubbling rivers and creeks. On this trip we will see log flumes, cabins and mines, which are all evidence of the area’s rich mining history. Our ride today will be circumnavigating beautiful Deerfield Lake. Along the way we will pass under tall Ponderosa pines and through small meadows. Tonight we will be at the Dutchman campground with options to dip in the lake or hike along the shore after setting up camp. TOTAL MILEAGE: 10 miles
Today we head toward the high point of the trip-- 6,100 ft. Once over Slate Prairie, we will ride down to the Mickelson Trail and into Mystic for lunch. In the afternoon our ride takes us through a dense Ponderosa forest on a combination of old doubletrack and technical singletrack. Much of the trail is swooping and smooth with intermittent pitches of steep rocky sections. The Black Hills were created by an uplift of metamorphic and igneous rock. Initially, these underlying rocks were covered by marine sediments, primarily limestone, some 65 million years ago. Since then, erosion has taken away the central part of the limestone forming an elliptical donut. This donut has granite, slate and schist of igneous origin in the center and marine limestone all around it. Evidence of this history is exposed in the sheer schist walls surrounding Slate Creek, where we’ll camp for the night. Before dinner, you may opt for a quick splash in Slate Creek or a hike up through the metamorphic rock formation to visit the old mines. TOTAL MILEAGE: 18 miles, with shorter options available
We’ll begin our ride this morning by climbing Skull Gulch on a beautiful dirt road, working our way up to the Tiffel Mine, an abandoned gold mine. Many of these trails and roads were created by energetic gold miners in the 1870s. We’ll climb and roll through the Ponderosa forest and eventually join a rolling fire road down Nugget Gulch to arrive in historic Silver City. Our ride continues to Pactola Reservoir where we will be met by a party barge for a cruise around the lake before heading to our camp. TOTAL MILEAGE: 12 miles, with shorter options available
This morning we will pick up the Centennial Trail at the base of the Pactola Dam and head south. Starting with a climb on doubletrack and singletrack, we will reach an overlook of the lake and the riding to come. There will be fun downhill singletrack before lunch. In the afternoon we will ride through a beautiful grassland and get views of Harney Peak, the highest mountain in the Black Hills. Once at camp there are options to swim, take a hike or do a little more pedaling. TOTAL MILEAGE: 16 miles, with shorter options available
After our last yummy breakfast, we will warm up with a quick ride back to the Centennial Trail and head south a few miles to the Flume Trail. Here we will hike to see some historic tunnels that are carved right into the rock. Once back at the bikes we will finish up our ride to the south side or Sheridan Lake for a quick swim and lunch. A shuttle will bring us back to town where we will say our good byes. TOTAL MILEAGE: 5 miles riding, 2 miles hiking
Itineraries are subject to change due to weather, road conditions, rider safety, and other factors which may affect the logistics of the adventure.
Riding Surface: Singletrack trails, doubletrack trails and some pavement. Packed dirt and loose gravel.
Overall Rating: Intermediate
Technical Difficulty: Moderate
Physical Difficulty: Moderate
Altitude: 4,000 - 6,500 feet
For travel logistics and a packing list, please download the complete trip itinerary.