South Dakota is world renowned for its beautiful scenery, from the mountainous and forested Black Hills to the prairies of east river. The best way to experience the wilderness is on the state’s many mountain biking trails. Grab your helmet and head out to the 10 best mountain biking trails in South Dakota!
Located just outside Rapid City, Buzzards Roost is a trail system with trails of varying difficulty. The highlight of this trail system is the lookout point, where one can see breathtaking views of the Black Hills National Forest. There are both single and double track. The total length is about 10 miles. Popular trails include Pretty Vulture, Buzzards Loop, South Rim, Sun Down, Stumpy, and Sun Up.
The Mickelson Trail is about 108 miles long and slithers through the Black Hills from Edgemont to Deadwood, with stops in Custer and Hill City. There are branched off trails that provide access to Lead and Custer State Park. The trail was made on the route of an abandoned railroad line and the trail passes through many railroad tunnels and over converted railroad bridges. It is especially scenic in the fall as all the foliage changes, so get an autumn bike ride in before winter hits!
The 111-mile Centennial Trail crosses the prairies near Bear Butte and twists through the Black Hills until reaching Wind Cave National Park outside Hot Springs. The trail crosses over mountain streams, by lakes and reservoirs, passes within a mile of Mount Rushmore, and cuts through wildlife habitats, giving bikers the opportunity to see Black Hills wildlife like bighorn sheep, deer, elk, turkey, mountain goats, and bison. Trail maps are available for purchase at local government agencies and nearby parks.
Located in the vast Black Hills National Forest, the Little Spearfish Trail is about six miles and goes in a loop through pine forests, over old bridges, and to a cascading waterfall. It is mostly flat and suitable for beginners. Make sure to stay on the trail! The trailhead is south from Spearfish along Highway 14A to Savoy, then west on Forest Service Road 222 for about five miles.
For a one-of-a-kind trail with challenging features like dock drops, small rock gardens, and steep areas, the Leaders Park Biking Trail can’t be beat! It is a single track recreation trail suitable for intermediate riders. During wet conditions, the trail is closed. Whether riding over bridges or through meadows, this trail is an unforgettable cycling experience!
Right alongside the Missouri River is the LaFramboise Island Nature Area. The island is full of wildlife, wilderness, and nature scenes. The island was mentioned by Lewis and Clark on their famous expedition - they called it Bad Humor Island, due to a stressful encounter with a Native American tribe nearby. These trails are a quiet escape from the hustle and bustle of Pierre. The trails are single track and cut through the forest. The packed sandy terrain is perfect for bike riding in any weather or season.
Sturgis attracts more than one kind of biker with their wonderful Black Hills trials. The trailhead is located off Exit 34 from Interstate 90. The total length is about 20 miles, and it is moderately difficult. The trail is marked with beautiful greenery, a babbling brook, and unique rock formations.
About 20 miles northwest of Hill City, in the Black Hills National Forest, is the Deerfield Lake Complex. The Deerfield Lake Loop can be accessed from four trailheads: Custer Trail Trailhead, North Shore Trailhead, Hill Top Trailhead, and the Gold Run Trailhead. The trail offers 10 miles of riding and is suitable for beginners. Hiking, horse riding, and winter sports are popular on this trail. The lake itself is 435 acres and provides ample opportunities for boating, fishing, and swimming.
The Rimrock Trail is near the Little Spearfish Trail, but this trail is slightly more difficult. It has a difficulty of moderate. The upper loop is 4.7 miles, the lower loop is 3.2 miles, and both loops are 6.3 miles. The ruins of a ranger station and a root cellar can be seen between the Timon Campground and the Rod & Gun Campground.
Don’t let the name intimidate you—this trail is nothing but fun! It has a total length of 10 miles and a difficulty of intermediate to advanced. It is named for the unusual trail marker—bones tacked on a tree! This trail is fun for beginners as it goes downhill, but there are features that bikers of all levels will be challenged by.