Total Length: 189.1 miles
The Fifty Trail follows the Great Plains Trail into South Dakota’s Black Hills then switches to the Centennial Trail where the Great Plains Trail has been routed on a bicycle path, specifically, the George S. Mickelson Trail, a gently graded rail trail. The parallel Centennial Trail, is a foot path and passes Mount Rushmore, whereas the Mickelson Trail and the Great Plains Trail misses this landmark.
Starting at the Nebraska border the trail follows lightly used roads through Buffalo Gap National Grassland to the town of Edgemont where it picks up the George S. Mickelson Trail at its southern terminus. After roughly 22 miles, the Fifty Trail turns east on Argyle Road, following a route including forest roads and trails in Wind Cave National Park to the southern terminus of the Centennial Trail.
From Wind Cave National Park, the Centennial Trail crosses Custer State Park then into Black Hills National Forest to Mount Rushmore National Memorial. The side trip to see the memorial is just half a mile.
The trail continues north on the Centennial Trail for 38.1 more miles to Pilot Knob. Leaving the Black Hills via a westward route, the Fifty Trail follows Gimlet Creek Road back to the George S. Mickelson rail trail for a second section, then turns west again via Hannah Road and Alt. US 14 before turning left onto the Roughlock Trail along Spearfish Creek. This short trail passes Roughlock Falls, and is said to be one of the most beautiful areas in the Black Hills. Finally the trail continues west via forest roads to the border with Wyoming.
|Roughlock Falls trail, courtesy VisitSpearfish.com|
MAPS and TRAIL GUIDES:
Brand new Guide book to the Centennial Trail, April 2018: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1984954741
Centennial Trail brochure from USDA Dept. of Interior. https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5194547.pdf
Centennial Trail online interactive map: http://www.blackhillstrails.org/maps/centennial/#hidestats
National Geographic Trails Illustrated Black Hills Map Pack (Maps 751 and 238) provide excellent coverage of the trails in this area, including the long-distance George S. Mickelson and Centennial Trails
HEART OF THE TRAIL:
Centennial Trail—Highland Creek Trailhead to Tamarack Gulch Trailhead. 50.6 miles not including the 1 mile round trip side trail to Mount Rushmore and any hiking around this landmark.
9533.6 – (add 0.0) Nebraska-South Dakota Border. Start of South Dakota Segment. Continue north on County Road 6412.
9535.4 – (add 1.8) County 5A merges in from left where 6412 curves to the right and heads ENE. Stay right and continue on County 6412.
9538.3 – (add 2.9) At a triangular intersection turn left to head north on County 7 (possibly still called County 6412) toward Edgemont.
9549.3 – (add 11.0) ‘T’ Intersection right after crossing railroad tracks. Turn left onto paved SD Hwy. 471, heading west but soon bending northward.
9558.3 – (add 9.0) ‘T’ Intersection at A Street in Edgemont (with services). Turn right and follow A Street/Old Hwy. 18 as it curves toward the NE then bears east, crossing the railroad tracks then turns NE crossing the Cheyenne River.
9559.0 – (add 0.7) At ‘T’ intersection, turn left, cross tracks and then turn right onto crushed limestone bike path George S. Mickelson Trail just west of and parallel to the working tracks. Head Northeast on the Mickelson Trail as it runs alongside the tracks with US 18 running parallel on the left.
9561.1 – (add 2.1) Active railroad tracks end. Mickelson Trail moves over to occupy the old railroad bed. Continue to follow Mickelson Trail northbound.
9574.1 – (add 13.0) Minnekahta Trailhead parking area, just before trail crosses US 18. Continue north on George S. Mickelson Trail.
9583.1 – (add 9.0) Leave Mickelson Trail and Great Plains Trail, cross over, via a short two-track, to a triangular intersection with Argyle Loop Road and Argyle Road, County 333. Pick up Argyle Road, County 333 heading due east then turning south after 1.3 miles, then through several more straight-away segments and abrupt turns. The Great Plains Trail follows the Mickelson Trail, which is a 110 mile N-S bike route, all the way through the Black Hills, but the Fifty Trail route shifts over to the southern terminus of the Centennial Trail via this quiet road walk that begins here. The Centennial Trail is also a 110 mile N-S route through the Black Hills, but it is purely a hiking trail.
9589.8 – (add 6.7) At an intersection at the beginning of an open area (43.505279, -103.551430), turn left onto County 682.
9591.0 – (add 1.2) At a fenced-in wet area (43.515186, -103.549494) turn right onto a lightly used two track, FR 2N, heading generally southeast then east.
9591.5 – (add 0.5) At a fork (43.514635, -103.541688) stay left, keeping to the open field rather than entering the woods. Stay left again at Woodstock Spring (43.515765, -103.539758) and head north on FR 2Q.
9592.8 – (add 1.3) At Busey Spring (43.528361, -103.536328) bear left to stay on FR 2Q, continuing to head northward.
9593.1 – (add 0.3) ‘T’ Intersection with County 682 (43.532054, -103.539905). Turn right and follow 682 eastward and then north.
9594.7 – (add 1.6) Trailhead at (43.538149, -103.522273) where County 682 makes a horseshoe turn westward. Turn right onto Coldbrook Canyon Trail heading east, soon entering Wind Cave National Park and following the canyon valley floor eastward to waypoint (43.535021, -103.501202) then climbing out of the valley continuing east and NE a short distance to US 385.
9596.1 – (add 1.4) Coldbrook Canyon Trailhead at US 385. There is a large National Park paved overlook/parking area just to the north, but turn right and head south along US 385 past another paved overlook parking area after a quarter mile and yet another after 0.7 miles.
9597.9 – (add 1.8) Gobbler Pass. On left is a wide shoulder trailhead parking area for Bison Flats Trail. Turn left onto Bison Flats Trail and follow it north around the apex of a fenced field then east for 0.8 miles through wide open ground then turning north after climbing out of a canyon/draw. Trail follows high ground north thereafter, generally in very open treeless grass and rocky land.
9601.6 – (add 3.7) Intersection with a two-track/forest road (43.553889, -103.458636), which is the Wind Cave Canyon Trail. Turn right. To the left ½ mile is the US 385 Trailhead.
9602.2 – (add 0.6) As the two-track is heading south, at (43.552399, -103.453167), turn left onto Highland Creek Trail which soon emerges onto a wide open pasture with various water holes.
9604.6 – (add 2.4) Intersection with the Lookout Point Trail at (43.578057, -103.457696). Turn right and drop down to Beaver Creek via a wooded ridge.
9605.1 – (add 0.5) ‘T’ intersection with Beaver Creek Trail at (43.582867, -103.451318). Turn left and head west along Beaver Creek valley.
X – (add 0.5) Junction with the Centennial Trail (43.584022, -103.459665). Turn right to leave Beaver Creek valley and ascend, headed northward.
9611.3 – (add 6.2) Highland Creek Trailhead. Cross Highland Ridge Road, through the stile (the fence is the boundary between Wind Cave National Park and Custer State Park, which you are entering. Turn right (east) across the creek then pick up an old two track heading up out of the valley
9621.6 – (add 10.3) French Creek Horse Camp and trailhead parking. Continue north on Centennial Trail.
9625.8 – (add 4.2) Badger Hole Trailhead. Continue north on Centennial Trail past Legion Lake and across US 16A.
9633.1 – (add 7.3) Iron Creek Trailhead. Basically a wide shoulder on the road just before the stream crossing and the campground at the end of the road. Continue north on Centennial Trail.
9637.3 – (add 4.2) Very well-built side trail running ½ mile to Mt. Rushmore. Otherwise turn left to stay on Centennial Trail.
9642.3 – (add 5.0) Big Pine Trailhead parking, off SD 244. Continue through parking lot and on north on Centennial Trail.
9645.9 – (add 3.6) Samelius Trailhead, north side of US 16. Continue north on Centennial Trail.
9652.9 – (add 7.0) Flume Trailhead and boat launch parking area, Sheridan Lake. Continue north on Centennial Trail along east shore of Sheridan Lake and across the Dam then crossing a footbridge before leaving the lake behind after one mile.
9655.1 – (add 2.2) Dakota Point Trailhead. Continue north on Centennial Trail.
9661.9 – (add 6.8) Brush Creek Trailhead. Follow Centennial Trail along Brush Creek Road to Gold Standard Gulch.
9666.2 – (add 4.3) Tamarack Gulch Trailhead at end of road in a wide open field. Cross Rapid Creek on footbridges twice.
9666.8 – (add 0.6) Rapid Creek Trailhead parking area. Continue north on Centennial Trail.
9671.8 – (add 5.0) Deer Creek Trailhead parking area off Silver City Road. Continue north on Centennial Trail.
9675.6 – (add 3.8) Pilot Knob Trailhead. Here the Fifty Trail leaves the Centennial Trail. Turn left onto Merritt Estes Road/CR 208, heading generally west.
9676.6 – (add 1.0) Road ends at US 385. Turn right and follow US 385 northwestward.
9676.8 – (add 0.2) Turn left onto Rochford Road, perhaps called East Gimlet Road after crossing a county line, perhaps called CR 261 or CR 237. Head generally west on this paved road, which becomes a gravel road after 0.4 miles.
9683.5 – (add 6.7) As road reaches Rapid Creek where East Gimlet Creek feeds into it, Mickelson Trail arrives from south. The road and Mickelson Trail both proceed westward up Rapid Creek valley. Switch over to the Mickelson Trail, which is right next to the road at this point, and proceed north and west on Mickelson Trail.
9687.4 – (add 3.9) Rochford Trailhead parking area. Continue north on Mickelson Trail.
9697.5 – (add 10.1) Cross Juso Ranch Road. Big Trailhead parking area across highway 205. Continue north on Mickelson Trail
9701.0 – (add 3.5) Leave Mickelson Trail at a two-track here (44.270086, -103.803017), turn left and follow the track less than 0.2 miles to highway 205/North Rochford Road. Turn right and follow this highway north 100 feet to the intersection with Hanna Road/CR 196. Turn left on Hanna Road and proceed westward.
9707.1 – (add 6.1) Hanna Road ends at US 85. Turn right onto US 85 and head east 0.1 miles to Cheyenne Crossing then turn left onto US 14A and head north.
9712.6 – (add 5.5) Turn left onto Roughlock Falls Road then after a bit more than 0.1 miles leave the road at the Roughlock Falls Trailhead and follow the trail up Little Spearfish Creek. This area is described as one of the most beautiful in all of the Black Hills.
9713.7 – (add 1.1) Roughlock Falls parking area. End of trail after passing the picturesque falls. Continue west on Roughlock Falls Road with some opportunity to hike trails along the creek instead of on the road.
9717.4 – (add 3.7) Little Spearfish Trailhead beside Timon Campground. Turn left, leaving road to hike the trail that continues up Little Spearfish Creek.
9718.3 – (add 0.9) Tinton Road/FR 134 (44.319252, -103.999267). Leave the trail before it turns left to cross the creek on a footbridge. Instead, turn right and follow the road southwestward.
9718.9 – (add 0.6) Where FR 134 makes a big Hairpin/horseshoe bend (44.314493, -104.008601), continue SW in the valley on much less traveled Forest Road toward Geranium Park.
9719.9 – (add 1.0) Follow the curve right where a track intersects from the left (44.304294, -104.018186), head east, then stay right at the next two forks after 0.1 and 0.15 miles.
9720.7 – (add 0.8) Geranium Park (44.294976, -104.022364). Bear to the right where a track intersects from the left, and head west. Stay left where a minor track exits right after 0.3 miles.
9721.2 – (add 0.5) Buffalo Park (44.293575, -104.031172). Leave the more traveled track that continues straight ahead. Turn right and follow a lesser track, keeping left at a Y intersection after 0.2 miles (at 44.295579, -104.033563)
9722.2 – (add 1.0) Turn right, heading North then northwest where a track enters from the right (44.294851, -104.049079)
9723.0 – (add 0.8) Wyoming state line (44.302677, -104.055497). Continue NW on the remote two track, which, with no further intersections, will emerge at Wagon Canyon Road after another 1.5 miles.
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