“Mountain biking in South Dakota?” you might say. “Really??”
Answer: Yes, really. However, the 5 highest-rated South Dakota trails on Singletracks are all located in western South Dakota, which is actually quite hilly. Perhaps you’ve heard of this area before: the famous Black Hills.
The top South Dakota trails are split pretty evenly between two cities: Rapid City and Custer. While Rapid City is the larger of the two in terms of population (and the second largest city in South Dakota), it is located on the eastern edge of the Black Hills. Custer, located about 50 miles southwest of Rapid City, is smack-dab in the heart of Black Hills National Forest and right next to Custer State Park.
My advice? Combine both of these towns into one big Black Hills MTB expedition!
Victoria’s Secret, Rapid City
Victoria’s Secret is a 10-mile loop that combines technical singletrack with nice climbs, descents, gorgeous views, and some faint doubletrack roads. While this loop can be hard to navigate at times, the effort is well-worth it with sweet singletrack as the reward!
“One of my favorite trails in the hills! Although there are a few sections that will bite you if you don’t know what you’re doing, overall, the trail isn’t too technical. What it does have is some brutal climbs rewarded by some nice, flowy downhill. Counterclockwise is the accepted flow, though it doesn’t get a ton of traffic, so you could probably get away with riding opposite direction during the week. If possible, bring a good map and a GPS or better yet someone who knows the trail, because although most of it is pretty straightforward, it’s not very well marked, and there are a few places where you can get turned around or just plain lose the trail. Oh, and bring an extra tube (or two), even if you’re running tubeless. The rocks are sharp, and if you’re careless like me, this trail will eat a sidewall for breakfast.” -Islandcrow
Prairie Trail, Custer State Park
Rocks, climbs, descents… there’s no easy riding to be found here but if you like a challenge, Prairie Trail will delight you.
“Rode this trail Sept 18, 2012. This trail will give you a short taste of what much of the trails are like in Custer State Park. Many rocks, big climbs and well earned descents with your occasional creek crossings. Many technical sections that are fun and challenging. Very scenic and was a blast to ride. Some areas are not rideable due to a combination of rocks and climbing. Most trails are like this in the area. Well worth the effort and will ride again. There are two sections where you will have to cross a fenced area. Bikes fit through one fine and the other my bars were too wide, just had to put the bike over the fence. Keep your distance from Buffalo and enjoy. Take care.” -GTXC4
Buzzard’s Roost, Rapid City
The Buzzard’s Roost area offers a variety of trail loops to choose from, and you can tailor your ride based on the difficulty that you desire. This area offers everything from smooth, swoopy trails to rocky gnar fests.
“Definitely rocky and technical, but some fast descents also. The views from top of the canyon are incredible. This place is worth checking out if you like a little challenge.” -rodeo540
Lover’s Leap Trail, Custer
Lover’s Leap is an up/down ride. Climb up a steep hill and then bomb back down!
“The climb up to Lovers Leap will get your heart pounding then the downhill is [exhilarating] and fast.” -marc_laker
Storm Mountain, Rapid City
Storm Mountain is a rolling ride with a lot of short climbs and descents to keep things interesting. The recommended route is about 10 miles in length and is the only true intermediate ride on this list.
“I really enjoyed this trail! Balanced in that it wasn’t just up then down. It was some nice climbs then a bit of downhill then another ascent, etc. It had just rained so the backside of the course [was] a bit slickery but otherwise it was awesome. The trail is marked very well and is counter-clockwise so you can put in headphones and not worry about running into someone. Loved the “downhill” gravity cavity style feature at the end. We did venture across the road to look at the true downhill stuff but it was too gnarly for us and wasn’t really worth it for us xc style riders.” –JHiggs
Your Turn: Looking for more trails to explore in South Dakota or anywhere else in the world? Try out the Singletracks smartphone app!