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Centennial Trail near Mt. Rushmore
This is a view of an area of the Centennial Trail near Mt. Rushmore. This is typical of the scenery that hikers see along the trail in the central Black Hills. The terrain in the Northern Black Hills is less rocky while the portion in the Southern Black Hills and Custer State Park is more open with more rolling hills and grasslands. Wildlife is abundant the entire distance of the trail and sightings of deer, buffalo, elk, mountain goats and other large animals are common.

Centennial Trail

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Distance The 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.
Time Needed: Hours, days or weeks
Best Time To Go: Anytime however overnight camping restrictions apply along some stages of the trail
Directions: Follow US 16A and Hwy 244 to trail head parking near Horse Thief Lake
Cost: Registration 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.
Highlights: Scenery, Wildlife, Adventure and lots and lots of excercise
Mt. Rushmore is Open All Year.
Open All Year

Generally Recommended but some stages are better than others.

     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 district.
     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 the section of the Centennial trail within the Black Hills National Forest however fees are charged for using campgrounds near the trail.
      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 visitor center 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.


 Updated 1/20/2013
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