In this post, I’ll be discussing the portion of the Black Hills Centennial Trail 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 several 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!
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