Centennial Trail Elk Creek TH to Alkali TH

Consensus:    (details)
  4.5 from 4 votes
blue  Intermediate from 3 votes
Rank: #1 in the Black Hills National Forest area
#1 in SD, #867 Overall
Views: 2,079. Last 30 days: 99
Condition Details | Update
Jul 7 Green - Dry
Featured Ride in the area near Sturgis,
“A singletrack adventure on the Centennial Trail #89.”
Adrian Whitmore on Apr 27, 2014
Getting There     GPX File     Print
11.218.1 milesKilometers 1,189’362 m Ascent 5,163’1,574 m High 6% Avg Grade (3°)
100% Singletrack -2,238’-682 m Descent 3,552’1,083 m Low 20% Max Grade (11°)
This is a point to point trail segment of the massive 111 mile Centennial Trail. A very doable ride with high meadows, stream crossings, and screaming descents.
Need To Know
This a portion of the larger Centennial Trail System. The trail number 89 signifies the year the state was given statehood. The 100th Anniversary of the state was 1989.
This section is best done as a shuttle-- Leave a vehicle at the Alkali TH in the Fort Meade recreation area, then shuttle your bike.

Directions to Elk Creek Th: From Alkali TH go west on I-90 to the 1st Sturgis exit 32, to Junction Ave., then go south at the light and head up Vanocker Canyon Rd you'll crest the mountain and come to a turn left at 7.9 miles onto RUNKLE Rd. Follow the road to the Elk Creek TH.

Starting from the Elk Creek TH you head north from the parking area. The TH parking is at most 4-5 cars in size. You begin climbing singletrack, for the first climb of the trip. It has a couple rock garden sections but very climbable on a bike, the pitch in some spots will push your lowest granny gear a bit, but doable on any drivetrain.

It then mellows out and you begin contour riding north utilizing the many ridges, and valleys of the Black Hills. Many of the canyons were foreign in name to me. But the views of granite outcrops and the plains of South Dakota were fantastic.

Upon descent into Three sisters, a long set of switchbacks, descends to the bottom of Bulldog Gulch. This is very beautiful area. Large pines, aspens, and an occasional creek crossing. The trail has great flow, and swoops and dips throughout the forest.

A short steep climb then begins at the bottom of Bulldog Gulch and you climb to the top of what is called Bulldog. Then trail then descends through some fantastic and exciting singletrack that swoops , flows, dips, and dives through the pasque flowers, pines, and prairies grass, as it exits to the the Alkali Creek. Here the trail travels under the I-90 freeway through a culvert to the other side, the trail then turns right and you head to the parking lot of the Alkali TH.

There are small bridge humps, called T.h.a.d. they usually are placed at fences for transport so you do need to dismount for gates.

Elk, deer, Turkey, Mtn goats, raptors, rattlesnakes are plentiful.
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PHOTOS of Centennial Trail Elk Creek TH to Alkali TH
  3.3 from 3 votes
North to Three Sisters (Sturgis, SD)
  3.3 from 3 votes
Top of Bulldog (Sturgis, SD)
  3.3 from 3 votes
View of Bear Butte (Sturgis, SD)
  3.0 from 3 votes
View looking south from top of Bulldog. This location is approximately 1... (Sturgis, SD)
  3.0 from 3 votes
Beautiful views and lightly-used singletrack waiting for you! (Sturgis, SD)
  3.0 from 3 votes
Out House??? Out of House.. Bulldog house??? (Sturgis, SD)
  2.3 from 3 votes
Pasques--State flower of South Dakota (Sturgis, SD)