Hiking and Bicycling in the Black Hills

Taking a break on the trail
The last two days we’ve tried to be a little more physically active. Yesterday we drove with our bikes up to Custer City to one of the trailheads for the George Mickelson trail. This is a rail trail so the grades aren’t very steep they are just very, very long. We started right out on an upgrade. These legs with no warm up were feeling it, the grade lasted about a mile and finally it was downhill and downhill and downhill, it felt great except we knew we were going to have to turn around and go uphill the same distance to get back. After a good 2-3 mile downhill we decided to turn around and yep it was a the same 2-3 miles uphill. The hard part of these grades is not that they are steep but they pull at you for so long. It was a good feeling when we got to the top and had a final downhill back into town. It was only about a 10 mile ride but we were exhausted and John was whining about his butt, now he’ll tell you it was me whining but that’s not how I remember it.
At a stand still on Needles Highway

You can see people starting to turn around

Since it was only about 2 we went into Custer and had lunch and did a lot of people and Harley watching. Its quite a show and we are actually really enjoying it. Getting back to Custer park we thought we would take the Needles Highway and at the turn there was an accident but it looked like they and it all cleaned up there (there have been several fatalities this week) so we followed a group of bikers but about 2-3 miles up the road the traffic came to a complete halt. We couldn’t see what was happening but many of the bikers were turning back. If you’ve ever been on this highway you know turning our big 3500 DRW pickup complete with bike rack around on this road would not be an easy thing. As bikers left we got closer to the front there was a guy holding a stop sign so I got out to see what was up. There was an accident further up and no one was getting through until the accident investigation was finished. Luckily for us they guy with the stop sign was near a pull out on the road so we did indeed turn the truck around. It took a few forward and back with me out directing John but we got turned around and left Needles Highway for another day. I think we will wait until Monday when Sturgis is over. I am sure there will still be bikers but the number should be down.

Legion Lake Trail
The weather changed a little on the way back and a storm rolled in. They really need the rain here just like much of the country. The storm was short and it rained hard and had pea sized hail for awhile. There has been so little rain this summer it was actually good to hear the thunder and hear the rain on the roof.

Legion Lake

I love this tree growing in the crevasse 
Today it still was overcast and we’ve had a shower or two but we did sneak a hike in. There is a loop trail that leaves and returns to the campground. It is rated moderate to difficult and I think that is accurate. It goes uphill steeply for quite a ways and is a beautiful forest trail. I was glad I had my hiking boots and stick. There are lots of rocks in the trail so coming downhill you really had to watch your footing. There was suppose to be a connecting trail to the Centennial Trail at the top but we must have missed the markers so once back at the campground we went and walked around the Legion Lake. It is a relatively easy trail around this little lake and a pleasant way to end the day. We’ve had a little more rain this afternoon but it has been an altogether pleasant day. We have no TV signal here so we are getting lots of reading done. Not sure what we will do tomorrow.

Happy Trails......................


  1. Definitely some good physical activity for you. But I would be waiting for the bikers to leave town before I tried to do much driving around.

  2. I know what you mean about long, uphill grades - they are never fun while walking or riding a bike. Too bad about the accident on the Needles Hwy. - that's always an interesting drive.

  3. Can't imagine all those bikers. I'm sure it will be nicer when they clear out!

  4. you are in the land of bikers... love the Black Hills having lived in Rapid City for a little over a year...

  5. Yep, the uphill grades always kick my butt! Enjoy your time in the Black Hills.

  6. I bet you will be glad to see the bikers leave.

  7. Looks like you are in an absolutely beautiful area. Glad you got in a bike ride and a hike in between the rain. We were out on a couple of bikes yesterday and went about 4.5 miles or so. Not much but it was the first time on a bike since May. There are so many bike trails around and we don't have our own bikes to make use of them, good thing they have lots of hiking trails too!

    Hope you can get some more biking in before you leave.

    Kevin and Ruth


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