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Cross Country Skiing

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Distance Varies depending on ski area
Time Needed: Varies
Best Time To Go: Snowpack usually begins to accumulate in late November and remains until mid or late March
Directions: N/A
Cost: Free
Highlights: The Black Hills have four major cross-country ski areas with designated trails and two state parks with cross-country ski trails.
Description:      The Black Hills National Forest has four areas that have been designated with cross-country ski trails. They are:
  • Bear Mountain, about 10 miles southwest of Hill City;
  • Beaver Creek, on the South Dakota-Wyoming boarder northwest of Deerfield Lake;
  • Eagle Cliff, about 15 miles southwest of Lead;
  • and Big Hill, about 8 miles southwest of Spearfish.
     All of these areas are somewhat remote and closed to other forms of transportation, i.e. snowmobiles. Outside of the designated cross-country ski areas, both the George S. Mickelson and portions of the Centennial trail are open to cross-country skiers. Additionally there are cross-country ski trails in both Custer State Park and Bear Butte State Park.
     The Custer Park trails include: Badger Clark Historic Trail, Prairie Trail, Sunday Gulch Trail, Sylvan Lake Shore Trail, Lovers Leap Trail, Stockade Lake Trail, Creekside Trail, French Creek Natural Area, Grace Coolidge Walk-In Fishing Area, South Dakota Centennial Trail -- Iron Creek Trailhead, Badger Hole Trailhead, French Creek Trailhead; Cathedral Spires Trail, Harney Range Trails -- Sylvan Lake Trailheads, Trail #9, Trail #4, Little Devil's Tower Trailhead. Custer Park trails vary a great deal in terms of difficulty and distance so know where you are going before you start.
     Bear Butte has two trails: The Summit Trail and the Lake Trail. Both are relatively short.
    If you need detailed information, a good idea if you plan to set off cross-country in winter, the South Dakota State Park Trail Atlas is an excellent reference. It features nearly 300 miles of trails in state parks, recreation and nature areas throughout the state. The atlas, which is  packed full of detailed trail information for bicyclists, backpackers and day-hikers, horseback riders, cross-country skiers and snowshoe hikers, can be purchased from the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department.
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