The Centennial Trail

Shuttle • 111 mi • 0 ft

The Centennial Trail has a lofty beginning and magnificent ending. If one proceeds from north to south, the trail begins at Bear Butte and Bear Butte Lake, where Crazy Horse presided over a Council of Nations that was determined to protect the Black Hills from outside encroachment. The trail ends in Wind Cave National Park, an area best known for its subterranean features but equally touted for its rolling prairie features that host many natural dramas that have their pinnings in grass.
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Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Rapid City
Length: 111 total miles
Elevation Gain: Minimal
Trail Type: Shuttle
Skill Level:
Duration: 10 to 12 days
Season: Best spring through fall
Local Contacts: Wind Cave National Park
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Recent Trail Reviews

3/17/2017 Quite a bit of information here.


I wanted to post this review to highlight a couple of issues I found with the Centennial Trail. It has been modified and is now closer to 104 miles long. It no longer goes to the top of Harney Peak ( I suggest a side trip). The warnings I would like to give are about the creek crossings in May. It happened to be a very wet season in the Black Hills this spring. In total there are about 15 or so major creek crossings.The crossings were chest high and the water was running extremely fast. Most of it is marked very well. If you start down a road and havn't seen a trail marker within 500 yard you are likely took a wrong turn.GPS coordinates are very helpful especially between Pactola Lake and Shridan Lake. I spoke with the Forest Sevice and they did say they had been out replacing markers. Water was plentyful but in July and August the creeks can get pretty dry. Don't pass up a water supply without topping off. You can camp with zero trace almost anywhere. The only places off limits are the Black Elk Wilderness area and Custer State Park. You can only camp at designated campsites in Custer Park and there are no tent sites available. I suggest breaking the rules or continuing on the the French Creek area where camping is allowed. Stay out of site of the trails and you will be fine. Campfires are generally not allowed. There are very few flat areas of the trail. You either climb or decend all the time. I have done it twice and found it easier to go from North to South versus South to North. The best and most scenic part of the trail is from Big Pine trailhead through the Black Elk Wilderness area. Incredible. I suggest a side trip to the top of Harney Peak as well.

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