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Level: Advanced
Length: 111 mi (178.6 km)
Surface: Singletrack
Configuration: Other
Elevation: +424/ -181 ft
Total: 61 riders

Mountain Biking Centennial Trail

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#1 of 44 mountain bike trails in South Dakota
#235 in the world

This incredible trail is singletrack heaven for those who like to abuse themselves on bikes. Stretching from Bear Butte in the North at Sturgis and winding through the center of the hills for over 111 miles until it reaches Wind Cave National Park, this trail gives you an excellent opportunity to enjoy the great rides at Custer State Park, as well as the fast singletrack near Sheridan Lake, Pactola Lake and near the Black Hills National Cemetery and Bear Butte volcano to the North in Sturgis.

With elevation changes from 3,200 feet to 5,600 feet, this trail consists of exceptional rollercoaster sections, rugged climbs with loose rock, difficult descents, stream crossings, tight switchbacks, and some smooth portions of low prairie singletrack as well ones that wind quickly through beautiful pine trees. Rocks sticking out of the ground on this trail will require you to keep your eyes open as you zip through it. It does gets well traveled by the end of the season, so you'll even find sections where there are sand traps as well. Watch out for buffalo and elk on the trail near Custer State Park.

First added by searsandrewj on Jan 1, 2003. Last updated May 4, 2020. → add an update
Before you go
  • Drinking water: unknown
  • Lift service: unknown
  • Night riding: unknown
  • Pump track: unknown
  • Restrooms: unknown
  • Fat bike grooming: unknown
  • E-bikes allowed: unknown
  • Fee required: unknown
This trail information is user-generated. Help improve this information by suggesting a correction.
Getting there
On I-90, take exit 34 at the Black Hills National Cemetary. Head North toward the miniture church opposite the cemetery, and turn left at that corner. Parking is 1/4 mile down the dirt road.
System trails (2)
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Centennial Trail Trail map

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C Deuter (on Aug 31, 2019)
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Trail conditions

Good (on Apr 20, 2019)
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Mountain Bike Trails Near Sturgis, South Dakota

| 35 mi
Intermediate | 8 mi
Intermediate | 8 mi
| 100 mi

Rider questions

Q: Which direction is best to ride

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  • C Deuter
    Reviewing 7th Cavary:

    I rode a small portion of this trail from Ft Meade just outside of Sturgis. The trail was well maintained and provided a great ride. If you are looking for technical this section is not it but it is fun and flows well.

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  • C Deuter

    Road the North end of the trail. The portion in the trees wa great. N or Ft Meade was like a rough cattle trail, road on grass for most of it. The view was worth it.

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  • Darcielynne

    We rode Elm creek to Dalton 3 times, there and back because it's such a fun trail, very scenic, fast and flowy and challenging with just the right amount of rock and elevation...I highly recommend it.
    Alkali to Elm was pretty stellar too, fast and fun with elevation although not as many pretty views. A shuttle to dalton while leaving the car at alkali would make for a stellar dh day

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  • ThePrimalSavage
    Reviewing 7th Cavary:

    Great system of trails supported by the city of Sturgis. They link to the Centenial Trail that accesses even more of the Black Hills. Mix of short climbs, longer grunt climbs, fast single track, and a few rocks for entertainment.

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  • jhawthorne

    Top notch ride. Perfect for breaking up a road trip for an hour and a half exhilarating pick me up! Jump on the trail from the east exit to Sturgis and head south for a stretch your legs climb and a fun swoopy single track dash back to your car!

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  • adventuremoor

    Wow that is a challenging ride. Did the Tatanka, the rocks are endless, the views are spectacular, and the climbs are relentless. The mud was pretty annoying in the southern section of trail, but it is what it is. Highly recommend if you like tech trails and rocks.

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  • stritz

    Rose for first time in Tatanka 100 - 2015. Rode out of Mt Rushmore and to Sturgis. This is a trail that offers a bit of everything - lots of rocks and very technical in South and fast flower in North. Great climbs and descents. One of the best trails I have ever ridden! Only issue I had was with some muddy sections.

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  • JHiggs

    Rode an out and back from Alkali TH to just past Elk Creek TH, we had to make it down to the creek about a half a mile past the TH. Challenging ascents and descends with lots of chunks of rock, obviously not built for mtn biking nor really sustainable but you expect that with a trail this long. The first part of the ride was a nice long climb and we knew we were going to love the descend on the way back. There were also some other great flowy parts of the trail.

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  • Islandcrow

    This is a wonderful trail system, but you have to be careful which sections you choose to ride, because it wasn't necessarily designed for mountain bikes, so it can be a bit hit or miss. For instance, the French Creek section of the trail is covered with baseball to bowling ball sized rocks, which makes riding just plain painful. The areas of solid ground you do have is pretty torn up by horse traffic. On the other hand, Alkali Creek is mountain bike heaven, with other sections of trail sprouting out all over the area. One of my favorite rides is to start at Bear Butte Lake, cross the highway over to the Alkali Creek Trailhead, and then if a 20 mile out and back isn't good enough for you, continue up Bulldog before turning back around. Other good sections are Iron Creek (a bit out of the way and very rocky, but fun), Samelius (I think I spelled that right. . .rocky and challenging, but fun), and possibly Silver City (I don't know if that's the name of the trailhead, but that's the city where it starts). The last is good either for a very short ride, or multiple river crossings, some hike-a-bike and usually a good amount of mud and wandering cows.

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  • stumpyfsr   ✓ supporter

    Wow! What a great trail! Yeah, climbs are long and steep, but downhills are fun.
    I rode only short section starting at Alkala TH and South then rode back. Deffinatelly not for beginners. I will be back to ride the whole thing.
    Bring enough water because I crossed a few creeks which was bone dry. Although water must be available at campground in warm season.
    Update. Today I rode North from Alkala TH. Stormy weather and powdery snow didn't let me go very far but I've got a lot of fun. 5 miles before I decided to turn around. Climbs are steep and unrideable with that much snow.

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  • levidfranz

    bulldog i believe is what the link is referring too and this trail is awesome. fast and fun. some descent sized rocks that make it fun. straight out of a bike magazine. the black hills are great. but don't tell CO, we don't need any of those yuppies crowding our trails.

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  • atomica67

    This GPX file shows the route from Alkali Horse camp to Elk Creek. This is a fun climb and a blast to bomb down back to the campground

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  • John Fisch

    Over 100 miles (not counting the illegal portion that goes throught the national park) of top quality singletrack--what more could you want? Great variety--some goes through dense woods and some openings to superb vistas, much typically dry western mountain areas but also some lush areas, mostly buff singletrack but enough techncial spots to keep it entertaining. You can hit the deep woods in the middle of the hills or the easily accessible section right off the interstate. No matter what you do, it's all good. This is a gem with less traffic than you'd expect--highly recommended!* Review edited 1/5/2009

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  • JJonas

    SD isnít flat! 105 mi & 15,000 vert. ft. of climbing if you ride all that is open to bikes. I rode the whole trail last weekend in 36 hrs and it was an epic adventure! From the surprise encounters with buffalo in Custer State Park, to the first glimpse of Bear Butte from the top of Bulldog, itís an experience that Iíll never forget.
    Each segment (TH to TH) has a unique feel and difficulty level ranging from trials rider to beginner. The most difficult sections were French Creek TH to Badger Hole TH and Samelius TH to Flume TH. The easiest sections were Deer Creek TH to Pilot Knob TH and Fort Meade TH to Bear Butte TH.
    Having a support crew (my wife and daughter) waiting at each trailhead gave me a destination where I could rest and refuel. If you donít have a support crew, keep a good supply of water on you because thereís very few locations where surface water is even present (On a separate trip, I had to rescue some backpackers that had run out of water between Dalton Lake TH and Elk Creek TH).
    Watch out for buffalo in Custer State Park, they are wild and unpredictable (I saw two and both stood like sentinels guarding the trail forcing me to carry my bike up adjacent hillsides to get around them). Keep an eye out for ticks too (I got 12 ticks on this trail in late-June).

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