Thanks to Coronavirus, the Trekkers’ don’t have any big travel plans this summer 😡. So instead, we’re trying to take advantage of the opportunities available to us locally in the Black Hills. To that end, we’re attempting to conquer as much of the Centennial Trail as we can. In this post, I’ll be discussing the portion of that route heading north from the Elk Creek Trailhead.
Where in the Black Hills is the Elk Creek Trailhead?
The Elk Creek trailhead is located on Runkle Road. The easiest route to get there is I-90, via the northern portion of Vanocker Canyon Road, south of Sturgis. The turnoff for Runkle Road is almost seven miles to the south of I-90. You can also reach the trailhead from Sturgis Road to the east, though the route to get there is longer and will likely require a high-clearance, 4WD vehicle.
What will you see when traveling on this portion of the Centennial Trail?
This trail is quite lovely. It offers numerous vantage points of sprawling valleys in the Black Hills. It also provides access to a number of local summits which give you expansive views of the surrounding area. In summer, you will notice the lighter, spring-green color of the aspen trees contrasting against the darker, forest-green of the ponderosa pines. In the fall, the contrast is even more noticeable when the aspens turn a bright yellow.
The trail traverses the northern portion of the Black Hills National Forest which features a wetter climate than the southern part. This allows for more lush and varied vegetation. Mr. Trekker says the scene reminds him of his childhood days in New England.
You can enjoy the Elk Creek portion of the Centennial Trail almost any time of year
This is a good trail for both biking and hiking as it is wide and well-graded in most places. In a few sections, it actually follows sections of old fire roads (and occasionally roads that are still in use, so be watchful for other recreators). This means you won’t find many places with roots that can trip you up or that require lengthy scrambling over rocks.
This is a good trail at almost any time of the year but especially during the warmer months. It’s fairly shaded (depending on the time of day) so it’s a cooler option when it’s hot out. There also aren’t many long climbs as it mostly consists of undulating terrain. I would give this trek an overall rating of easy to moderate. The moderate portions come in as there are a few areas where the “ups” can get your heart pumping a bit.
Below are a few more pics from the trail (thanks, as usual, to Mr. Trekker for these!):
Have you tried out this portion of the Centennial Trail? Tell me about it in the comments!
Did you enjoy this post? Pin it!
Like what you read here today? Please feel free to leave a comment, like or share this post! Add your email at the bottom of the page, or the sidebar to the right, to be notified when a new post is published. By signing up for the email list, you will also receive a free copy of the Tranquil Trekker’s Top 10 Tips of Trekking Do’s and Don’ts!
You can also follow the blog on social media by clicking the links below!
6 thoughts on “Centennial Trail, Elk Creek Trailhead North”
I didn’t know what kind of tree Ponderosa was, so yay for the comment above!
I am glad you can get out into such a beautiful area and the Centennial Trail sounds like a great way to explore more! I hope this summer brings you happy trails! We have *just* started to get back out into the mountains too. It keeps raining, so everything is gorgeous and green… 😀
We could use more rain here, things are starting to dry out. The ponderosa’s are native to this area so they’re all over (we have one in our back yard.) 😃 They actually make decent shade trees.
I always love how open ponderosa pine forests feel compared to our woods in New England. Sounds like a gorgeous hike for a summer day!
I feel more comfortable in the more open forests too. My husband likes the thicker, more woodsy feel, but then he grew up in New England.
Hope you discover some hidden gems close to home since you can’t travel much this year! This looks like a gorgeous place to start 🙂
It does help that we live in such a beautiful place!