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The Centennial Trail Professional Review and Guide
"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."
--Bert & Jane Gildart, Hiking South Dakota's Black Hills Country (Falcon Guides).
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.
ok first off this is a pretty hard trail to cover you start off at bear butte mountain and end 111 miles in edge mont south dakota if this is your first trek across the black hill i would say take the Michelson Trail that is well marked .
when on the centenial trail you will find even with the best maps you will be lost if you not good with a compass water is an issue during the hottest parts of summer alot of the stream will dry up take at least 4 quarts of water per being thee may be treks of 10 to 12 miles with no streams good luck and enjoy the black hills
Did someone get GPS coords for the trail. If so would you be willing to share?
I bike the centennial trail often.I guess I never thought of it as the kind of trail that would eat you up like the other reviewer.I guess you best come prepaired.It is 10-12 miles between Th. there.The section the other guy is talking about is really a hoot,if you ride it the other way.He clumb up into the black hills from the surrounding prairey by Bear Butte.Now heres the skinny on the trail.If traveling by the hills on I-90 just stop in Spearfish,take the Black Hill State University exit,and head into town.On your left hand side of the street will be the Two Wheeler Dealer or ACME Bikes at the corner of Canyon Lake drive and Hwy 44 in Rapid City.The guys there are bikers that all know the Centennial and the many other trails in the area.There is a section that is easily reached from the interstate near Sturgis,the th. is just about a 1/4 mile off the interstate.Turn off at the National Cemetary exit and follow the road to the Alkali creek campground and Trail head.You can ride it as an out and back from there.You can also shuttle to that spot by getting dropped off at the Elk Creek Th.Located just off the road to Nemo out of Sturgis and riding the 3 mile climb and 8 mile downhill section back down to Alkali Creek Th.The trail there is easily followed and marked by the trail 89 markers. mtbr.com has many reviews on this trail.the whole thing is 111 miles long and is the best trail in the state for a ride of epic proportions.Just dont go point to point without a personal discussion with someone that knows this trail.Most if not all of the trailheads have lakes or streams next to them,with camping.Shes the real deal and "should not be passed by" when traveling thru South Dakota.
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