This is a view of an area of the Centennial Trail near Mt.
This is typical of the scenery that hikers see along the
trail in the
central Black Hills. The terrain in the Northern Black Hills
rocky while the portion in the Southern Black Hills and
Park is more open with more rolling hills and grasslands.
abundant the entire distance of the trail and sightings of
buffalo, elk, mountain goats and other large animals are
nearest trail head is three miles west of Mt.
Rushmore via US16A and Hwy 244. Other nearby trail
heads are on the Keystone-Hill City Road and on US
16 north of Keystone.
days or weeks
however overnight camping restrictions apply along
some stages of the trail
US 16A and Hwy 244 to trail head parking near Horse
fees apply if you want to hike the whole trail or
camp overnight. Also a park entrance fee is required
to hike the Custer State Park stages. However much
of the trail is open and free to day trippers.
Wildlife, Adventure and lots and lots of excercise
Open All Year
Generally Recommended but some stages are better
This is the centerpiece of the Black Hills trail
system. For dyed-in-wool hikers, the Centennial
Trail of the Black Hills is one of the premier
hiking trails in the continental US. This trail
begins in the far north near Bear Butte State Park
and winds more than 100 miles south through the
central spine of the Black Hills to an exit point
near Hot Springs.
Experienced hikers and
backpackers should allow at least a week to walk the
entire trail. Different stages of the trail can be
walked in as little as a few hours or as day trips.
The most scenic stages are in the
Black Elk Wilderness Area just to the South of Mt.
Rushmore and parts of Custer State Park.
Stages in the northern hills have more historical
interest and pass near the communities of Deadwood,
Lead and the historic Central City gold mining
The trail stages
range from easy to
difficult, however most stages are classed in
the easy to moderate
range. The trail passes through several management
areas including the
National Park Service in the Mt. Rushmore and Wind
Cave stages; the
South Department of Game Fish and Parks in Custer
State Park and Bear
Butte State Park; and the National Forest
Service for the majority
of the trail.
Approximately 22 miles of the
trail are located within Custer
State Park. Three trail heads provide access
points to Custer State Park’s portion of the
trail. The trail is marked with a combination
of brown fiberglass posts and gray diamonds fastened
to trees. This trail is also used by horse riders
and mountain bikers.
Some trail heads in the Black
Hills National Forest
may have a parking fee. There are no fees for using
section of the Centennial trail within the Black
Hills National Forest
however fees are charged for using campgrounds near
There is no fee for using the
trail in Wind Cave Natonal Park, however all back country campers
must have a back country use permit in their
possession. These permits
are free and can be obtained at the Wind Cave
information desk or at the Centennial trail heads.
No camping is permitted
along the Mt. Rushmore segment of the trail.
Note: Although most hiking trails are closed to
motorized vehicles a few sections of the Centennial
Trail are open to them. These sections are located
between Pilot Knob and Dalton Lake.