Spearfish, South Dakota
If you’re looking for outlaw country dirt flow trail, come hang out in Spearfish, SD.
There are over one hundred miles of singletrack just outside of town. I’d tell you an exact number, but I’m not sure anyone has ever taken the time to find out. The trail here all started from a few good souls kicking sticks off cow trails and linking them via old forest service roads. Today, it’s an impressive network of narrow, flowy, and sometimes overgrown, hand-tooled singletrack. With the help of our local trail groups and a few motivated riders, every year more and more trail is adopted by the forest service.
Riding - Singletrack
Lookout Mountain is located right in town, within the city limits. It has fifteen miles of rugged and fun, accessible single track. Make sure to turn on Trailforks—during the summer the city leases the land out to cattle grazing, which means riders can easily get lost on cow trail.
***Blue Steak is closed to bikes***
To get here head North on Main Street. Take a right on Colorado, a left on 10th heading north, and a right on Nevada. You’ll ride through culverts that take you under the interstate.
Crow is a steep peak with amazing views. The trail boasts the most technical riding in Spearfish and is sure to provide a challenge, at some point or another, to anyone riding it. This 7 mile out-and-back is located on Higgins Gulch Road. To access it you can either drive to the parking lot or ride seven miles of gravel up Higgins Gulch Road. It can also be accessed from the Tinton/Big Hill trail system via Ball Park or Fight Club.
Tinton Trail is the ultimate access trail to Spearfish riding. To get there, either start in town and ride up Tinton Road (~3 miles) or drive to the dirt parking lot located on the left-hand side just after the cattle guard. From the trailhead it’s just five miles before you come to a Y in the trail. Both options will take you up to Bill Hill, however I recommend taking Dakota Ridge Connect (right) and taking Twin Bridges down to make a 14 mile lollipop loop. Twin Bridges is an amazing trail—don’t miss it!
From Big Hill (accessible by car via Tinton Road), you can pretty much go in any direction and find singletrack. If you pedal up Johnson Fire Road from the parking lot you’ll find Dakota Ridge. From there you can either go left down Ball Park (mistakenly labeled Dakota Ridge in Trail Forks) or go right, down Dakota Ridge (which is arguably the coolest piece of singletrack in the northern hills). From the bottom of Dakota Ridge, you can climb back up to the parking lot if you’re feeling crusty, or pedal up the fire road to connect to the super fun and punchy, traditionally downhill trail, Fight Club.
Featured Loop: ~32 miles
Start from town. Head up the gravel on Tinton Road. After the cattle guard take a left to hop on Tinton Trail. After five miles you’ll come to a Y in the trail. Stay left and take Twin Bridges another three miles to Big Hill. From the parking lot head north on Johnston Fire Road. Watch your trailforks carefully—there will be a left-hand piece of singletrack called Dakota Ridge Connect that will take you to the top of Dakota Ridge. If you miss this turn you’ll ride Johnston For a long, long, long, long way, and it will suck. At the top of Dakota Ridge you’ll go through a barbed-wire fence gate. Please close it behind you. Take a right, heading northeast and down Dakota Ridge. At the base of Dakota Ridge you’ll find a gate where it connects back to Johnston Fire Road. Off of Johnston is the start of my all-time favorite trail, Fight Club. Fight Club will deposit you, stoked and exhausted, on Higgins Gulch Road. From there you can either cruise back to town or take my recommendation and summit Crow Peak.
Watch your Trailforks carefully! Our trail system was made by a bunch of renegades—it is not physically labeled.
Have fun and get your shred on in my backyard!
The gravel around Spearfish couldn’t be better. Low traffic, scenic, and backwoodsy—exactly what you’d expect from SoDak. There are so many possibilities I don’t even know where to begin, so I’ll just give you two really great options to get started with:
Spearfish Canyon Loop - under 30 miles
Head up Higgins Gulch Road to where it connects with Tinton Road (~12 miles). Turn right on Tinton for a mile until you reach Iron Creek Drainage on the left-hand side. On Strava it’s labeled Country Road 222. In three quick miles it will deposit you in Spearfish Canyon, which is a paved road with incredible views. From there, either turn left and head down the Canyon to complete your loop or go right to ride ~5 more miles to Savoy for lunch.
George S Mickelson Trail - 109 miles
The George S Mickelson Trail is a rails-to-trails success story. In 1998 it was opened to bikes, horses, and walkers. During the Gold Rush, it served the now ghost towns that still line the trail. It’s 109 miles of Ponderosa Pine and Aspen forest wind through some of the prettiest country in the West. The trail contains more than 100 converted railroad bridges and four rock tunnels for a little “ooooh”ing and “awe”ing on the ride. Because it’s a converted railroad track, it never exceeds a 4% grade. The entire trail is do-able in a day, but be prepared for a huge day in the saddle. The most scenic part of the trail is between Deadwood and Custer. Trail fee is $4 a day.
Another option is to pick a random road and head out. If you pop into our local forest service you’ll find thousands of miles of pristine gravel ready to grind.
Cell phone service is spotty to nonexistent in the Northern and Southern Hills.
Spearfish City Campground is a great place to stay during the summer months. The camping spots are lush and green and a small creek winds through the sites. It’s located right by a large park and is conveniently located at the mouth of Spearfish Canyon and along a bike path.
Want something a little further from town? The Black Hills National Forest allows camping, with a 14-day stay limit. There are tons of places to park a van along Tinton Road and Higgins Gulch—both of which access the trail system. If you want a campfire you’ll have to camp in Spearfish Canyon at Timon, Rod and Gun, or Hanna campground.