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Black Hills National Forest

The Black Hills of South Dakota cover an area of 125 miles north to south and 65 miles east to west.  This area is full of canyons, rolling hills, grassland, streams and lakes.  In the southern hills is the Black Elk Wilderness that surrounds Harney Peak the highest point in South Dakota and highest point east of the Rocky Mountains.  On top you will find an old lookout tower with a view of the entire Black Hills.  I suggest taking your binoculars so you can view the entire hills with ease.

The Black Hills have many geological features which make it a great place to visit.  Since there are so many I will just talk about a few of my favorites and in later posts go into more detail on each spot.

Starting in the Northern Hills is a town called Spearfish.  It is a beautiful and growing town.  Just to the South is Spearfish Canyon which is one of the most beautiful canyons in the Black Hills.  The drive takes you up a winding canyon with Spearfish Creek on one side and towering 1,000 foot high limestone cliffs on each side.  The canyon has two famous water falls, Roughlock and Bridal Veil Falls.  There are many pullouts along the way allowing for drivers to stop and take pictures of the stunning beauty.

The Black Hills have a famous Rail Trail called the George S. Mickelson Rail Trail.  This 114 mile long trail takes you North to South for almost the entire distance of the Black Hills.  The trail passes through many beautiful areas along the way and is a must see for hikers and cyclists.  I find the trail much more fun to bicycle than walk.

Another trail that goes the length of the hills from North to South is the Centennial trail.  This mostly single track trail winds through the black hills from Bear Butte to Wind Cave National Park.  There is a short section of the trail that goes into the Black Elk Wilderness where cyclists have to go around the wilderness. by riding over  the Iron Mountain Road to Trail # 15 then up the Iron Creek Road till the Iron Creek Horse Camp where you can once again rejoin the Centennial Trail.  As you travel through Custer State Park watch out for buffalo.  The bull buffalo like to hang out near the trail especially near streams.  Be on the lookout so you do not startle one of these giant beasts.

I suggest stopping by one of the Forest Service offices spread throughout the Black Hills to get information on places to go.  They are full of information and many of the people have lived in the area for years and know the best places to go for your desired experience.

Below are some links to the Black Hills.

Black Hills National Forest

Mount Rushmore


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