The trailhead is located at the end of Little Elk Creek Road. As you ascend, you are following the path of Little Elk Creek Road that washed out during the infamous '72 flood, at the same time Rapid Creek flooded, creating that historical disaster in Rapid City.
At start, you'll see the road bed comes and goes, changing to mostly singletrack after first 0.25 miles. You'll pass through Chimney Canyon, with the "chimney" feature quite evident on your left at about 0.8-mile point. This is just a few yards from first landmark, referred to as White Gate. It is a sheer, light colored rock wall on your right, with rock garden path and the creek running on the left. Don't worry, you'll have a couple opportunities to cross the water shortly thereafter. Be prepared to throw your bike over your shoulder to do some rock-hopping, especially during the spring run-off.
As you pop-up out of the rock-garden/creek crossing zone, you'll see another rock formation on your right. This one is a maroon colored mass, that looks like it could tumble any second. You've reached Red Gate, and another rock-garden area. Coming out of this zone, you'll be on tight singletrack with very steep drop into the deepening canyon, as you continue the ascent, climbing steadily. If you're afraid of heights, don't look down! Advisable to take the high track, as the lower creek-side option disintegrates into more wash-outs.
As you approach about 1.75 miles, you'll have two opportunities to drop back into the creek-side zone. Don't worry, if you miss the first, as you'll be forced to take the last. At approximately 2 mile mark, you'll have another shorter rock wall on the right, which has a spring creating a brief wet muddy zone. Rocks and boards are present if you'd rather not go full mud here.
In a few hundred yards, you'll see a wider, shallower flat-rock creek zone, ideal for a quick break/cool down. As you continue, still uphill, but less strenuous, morphing slowly back into the old road-bed. A few hundred yards later, you'll reach Dalton Lake Road #224
. A right turn here will take you to an eventual intersection with Centennial Trail. Left turn is a relatively flat gravel roadway, leading to Dalton Lake Campground, and another intersection with Centennial Trail, near the out houses on your left.
This is a good place to turn around and enjoy a fast-paced glide downhill back to your vehicle.
Watch for rattlesnakes and regular encounters with hikers/dogs and joggers.