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Topic: Black Hills, SD 5-7 Day Backpacking Trip, Black Hills, SD 5-7 Day Backpacking Trip< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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mrogers08 Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 01 2013, 3:08 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I am planning on a backpacking trip in the Black Hills sometime in May. I am going with a couple of friends. We will be taking only 1 car there so a loop would be an ideal path or what ways would there to get a ride back to the initial trial head?

Does anyone have any good suggestions on routes to take? I would like to cover a decent amount of ground but not be killed by an excessive amount of miles. My friends and I are all in good shape so I'm not worried about the difficulty of the trails.

Since it is springtime, I'm guessing there should be plenty of water.

I'm looking for some great backpacking and an amazing experience.
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 02 2013, 1:32 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

You are not likely to find a loop of that size in the established trail systems of the Black Hills. In some places you will need to either backtrack, do a series of figure 8's, catch a ride back to your vehicle, hike off trail, or do a combination of those.

What maps of the Black Hills do you have? Have you done some map work for this trip? I'd suggest you purchase two National Geographic, Trails Illustrated maps of the Black Hills Trail systems:If you get those maps right away, I can answer questions you have about any trails you find on those maps. But frankly, I don't have enough information from you to plan a route for you.

Regarding the water, I would not count on "plenty." How much will depend upon which route you take. But the Black Hills are currently in serious drought. The Hills did not get much snow this year. In May, there will be water, but it may be more widely spaced than you expect. Plan on carrying at least two quarts most of the time. I carry three, especially in the drier Southern Hills.

Right now the crucial question is, How familiar are you with maps of the Black Hills?


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mrogers08 Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 02 2013, 7:19 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks for the reply. I currently do not have an maps of the Blacks Hills. I am going to get those very soon.

I am considering the southern part of the Centennial trail with starting at Norbeck. Since we will only have 1 car I would probably do out and back with backtracking unless I was able to figure out a ride back to the original trail head.

I am somewhat familiar with maps of the Black Hills. The last time I was there (5-6yrs ago?), I did a 50-60 mile backpacking trip with my Boy Scout Troop. I remember some of the area.

So if I was to start at Norbeck on the Centennial trail, what would be a decent route/plan?
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 03 2013, 7:48 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(mrogers08 @ Apr. 02 2013, 5:19 pm)
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. . . So if I was to start at Norbeck on the Centennial trail, what would be a decent route/plan?

I'm not sure what you mean by "Norbeck."
    Norbeck Lake Trailhead in Wind Cave National Park?
    Norbeck Trailhead on the southern border of Black Elk Wilderness?
    or Norbeck Wildlife Preserve surrounding Black Elk Wilderness on all sides?
Each of those is on or along the southern Centennial Trail. But they could indicate locations far apart. Which location did you want to start at?


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 03 2013, 3:58 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Sorry for not being specific enough. I meant the trailhead in Wind Cave National Park.
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 04 2013, 11:57 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

As was stated above, I doubt you will be able to find that much trail in the Black Hills.  My advice would be to do a couple nights in the Black Hills, and then a couple nights in the Badlands which are not too far away.

If you go for the Badlands, get a quality map and brush up on your compass skills because there are no trails, but easy hiking.


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 04 2013, 12:41 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

You might consider getting a shuttle.  Maybe Affordable Adventures.  This will free you up to do an end-to-end.

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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 04 2013, 1:03 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(mrogers08 @ Apr. 03 2013, 1:58 pm)
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Sorry for not being specific enough. I meant the trailhead in Wind Cave National Park.

Okay, here are the challenges of hiking out of Norbeck Lake Trailhead in Wind Cave National Park (map link). First, you can not really go anywhere except north along the Centennial Trail. That will give you a schedule like the following:If you are very energetic, you might do those miles in two days with the 1st day being an 18-jaunt to French Creek.

Then you could spend a day or two doing a loop through Black Elk Wilderness thus bringing you back to Iron Creek. Then you backtrack two or three days to your vehicle at Norbeck Lake Trailhead. If you are energetic enough to do 18 miles on both the first and last days, this route will consume 5-6 days. If you'd rather do that stretch in two days, the route will take you 7-8 days, depending upon how much time you spend doing the loop in Black Elk Wilderness.

One of the big limiting factors in this scenario is that you are not allowed to primitive camp anywhere in Custer State Park except along French Creek east of the Centennial Trail. Backpackers cannot, according to Park rules, camp anywhere else in Custer State Park unless they are willing to camp in a car campground, which may be full by the time you get there anyhow.

Another question about this route is water at Highland Creek. It is a very small stream that pretty much dwindles to near nothing in later summer especially with our drought. Beyond that, this shallow stream half circles bison corrals where the water may flow through bovine dung (bison pies), fresh or old before flowing into Wind Cave National Park. And some people baulk at drinking water tainted by bison crap even though the water has been chemically treated for purification.

You can go upstream from the bison corrals to get your water. But in Wind Cave National Park, the rules do not allow you to camp anywhere visible from the trail or a road. So the only camping locations place your tents downstream from the bison corals (somewhere in this vicinity).

So the above paragraphs describe the factors you may wish to consider in deciding whether to do 6 or 18 miles on the first and last days of your trip. Highland Creek is the only water source between Norbeck Lake Trailhead and French Creek unless you find some residual snow drifts and melt that water. But I would not count on that.

If you are not familiar with ACME Mapper, you can access topo maps from the links I've given above. But the maps may not clearly mark the Centennial Trail. For that you need the Trails Illustrated maps I linked in my first post of this thread.

Let me know what you think.


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 04 2013, 1:15 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(TravisNWood @ Apr. 04 2013, 1:03 pm)
QUOTE
One of the big limiting factors in this scenario is that you are not allowed to primitive camp anywhere in Custer State Park except along French Creek east of the Centennial Trail. Backpackers cannot, according to Park rules, camp anywhere else in Custer State Park unless they are willing to camp in a car campground, which may be full by the time you get there anyhow.

One car campground Travis may be referring to is a horse campground that borders French Creek to the South.  It has Pit Toilets and running water ... and lots of horses and pick-up trucks.  Not sure if it's on recreation.gov or first come first serve.

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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 08 2013, 2:33 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks to everyone for the replies.

Travis thanks for all the info. I'll take a closer look at all the plans but the plan that you gave sounds good.

Null, thanks for the link to Affordable Adventures. I will look into that since an end to end trip would be better.
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 08 2013, 2:43 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

I'll be there May 26 - June 1, hiking from Wind Cave to Mt. Rushmore, taking an extra day in the Black Elk Wilderness.  Maybe I'll run into you.

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10 replies since Apr. 01 2013, 3:08 pm < Next Oldest | Next Newest >

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