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  • Oct 06, 2015
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News, Projects, Sturgis

Sturgis Trail Project Reaches Significant Milestone

For Immediate Release                                                                         October 6, 2015

Sturgis Trail Project Reaches Significant Milestone
Funding secured for three mile accessible trail loop around Fort Meade

(Sturgis, SD) – The City of Sturgis has secured $250,000 in funding through the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) to construct a three mile trail around the Fort Meade Veterans Administration Hospital (VA). The trail will be handicapped accessible and will tie into key existing facilities and points of interest.

The new trail will enrich the experience of hospital guests and create a new recreation opportunity for VA staff and area residents by connecting the Fort Meade Trailhead including the Fort Meade Recreation Area Trail System and Centennial Trail. The new trail will also link the Sturgis Bike Path, Barry Stadium, and Fort Meade Museum.

The Bureau of Land Management, VA, the City of Sturgis, Sturgis Parks Department, and area non-profit Black Hills Trails have been collaborating on the development of an extensive stacked loop recreational trail system in and around the City of Sturgis since 2013. This new accessible loop trail is a significant milestone in that collaboration.

Future goals of this group initiative include connecting these trails with proposed trail systems on Deadman Mountain and in the Sturgis Watershed, and ultimately to connect area communities.

To get involved please subscribe to the Black Hills Trails email list on Future news and opportunities to collaborate and volunteer will be announced on this website, as available.


Bureau of Land Management
Ryan Larson
(605) 892-7000

City of Sturgis
Ann Bertolotto
(605) 347-4422, ext 206

South Dakota Game Fish & Parks
Recreational Trails Program
Randy Kittle
(605) 773-3391

Black Hills Trails

More details from South Dakota Game Fish & Parks


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  • Oct 07, 2014
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News, Sturgis, Volunteering

Update, Appreciation and Progress


In 2013 the City of Sturgis approved the donation of funds to our organization to purchase trail equipment that would help to develop a new trail on City property-The Lions Club Park Trail.

Formal trail building began last September and was completed in the spring of 2014.

Labor of Love

Well over 600 volunteer hours  went into developing this first mile of trail. Based on Independent Sector Organizations hourly value of a South Dakota volunteer, that is more than $11,000 worth of community commitment!

Additionally, a few community members donated money to help the organization cover its 2014 insurance cost. Dr Tom Herman, Keith Smit, and Mike Strain, Thanks! Black Hills Trails would be unable to continue in this mission without support like yours.

Pictured from left: Dr Tom Herman, Keith Smit, Kevin Forrester (Black Hills Trails) and Mike Strain

Enjoying The Fruits…

Two community events have already been held on the trail: The Sturgis Volksmarch (organized by Sturgis Area Chamber), and Brandon’s Memorial Malibu Run (organized by Taylar Applegate and Delzer family)

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Sturgis Volksmarch

Brandon’s Memorial Malibu Run.

“Save This Date” Photo Session on New Trail

First Trail Build Day

The First Fall trail Build day of 2014 was held September 27th. Fourteen volunteers showed up to help work on the Lions Club park trail. Much needed trail touch ups were taken care of, stumps and rocks removed and climbing turns refined. In addition, 300 feet of new trail was built. Black Hills Trails provided the tools and instruction, Sturgis Coffee Company provided coffee, Angie Ondriezek provided cookies.

Here is a  short video/time lapse of the 9-27 build day.

New Milestone! Developing Trail on Fort Meade Recreation Area

Previously our organization submitted a proposal to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) who manages the Fort Meade Recreation Area adjacent to Sturgis to rebuild one of the existing trails on their property. This trail, currently called “The Grind”, was damaged due to logging operations in 2014. Wednesday, October 8th, the Bureau of Land Management will officially approve our organizations involvement in developing this new trail. This will be done by signing a Volunteer agreement at the BLM headquarters in Belle Fourche.

The Lions Club park trail directly connects to this new “Grind” trail and the trails in conjunction will provide access between the Centennial Trail, the City of Sturgis and the Fort Meade Trail Head.

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  • Sep 30, 2013
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News, Projects, Sturgis, Volunteering, Whitewood

Project Status Update

Part of the mission Black Hills Trails continues to pursue is connecting our local communities to each other and connecting our communities to points of interest with beautiful ribbons of trail. A great deal of progress was made toward that goal last weekend with two successful volunteer trail build days.

A small volunteer crew turned out in Oak Park in Whitewood on Sunday morning and was able to build the final remaining segment of trail forming a loop out of and back into the park. The only projects remaining before the main loop of the trail in Whitewood can be considered complete is to build one final corner and construct a small bridge. Calling this project complete in the very near future will be a major milestone for the residents of this small Black Hills town!

On Saturday morning in Sturgis, 17 volunteers labored over 75 hours combined to finish almost 1000 feet of new trail. This trail will eventually stretch southeast from Lions Club Park and the City Cemetery onto the Fort Meade Recreation area and access existing trails there. The next scheduled volunteer build day for the Lions trail in Sturgis is Saturday, October 12 with an 8:30 AM start time.

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  • Sep 16, 2013
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Letter: Conserving Lookout Mountain

Lookout Aerial

Spearfish Area Residents,

Any college freshman who has taken introductory humanities classes can tell you about the Tragedy of the Commons. The concept behind this social dilemma is simple but easily and often overlooked. Consumers or users of any shared resource will tend to act in their own best interest where use of that resource is concerned. As philanthropic as any of us may try to be this phenomenon forms a cornerstone of sociology, it is simply a part of our human nature.

The shared resource that has been a point of contention recently for residents of Spearfish is Lookout Mountain. As an un-managed resource the visitors and local residents who venture out on Lookout are left to their own devices in terms of their route up the mountain. This has led to a tendency for those routes to be very direct and in some cases straight up hillsides. Over the years the common routes have coalesced into many of the visible trails that can be seen on Lookout today.

There have been arguments made of the relative impact of hikers as compared to mountain bikers or other user groups, but discussions such as these fail to account for the larger picture. The single largest destructive force by a huge margin to natural surface environments, trails included, is Mother Nature herself. When it rains on Lookout Mountain, as soon as each drop hits the ground it heads downhill. On a nice grass-covered slope devoid of features this accumulation will flow in an uneventful laminar sheet down the hillsides. When this laminar sheet flow is interrupted by features such as trails the water can accelerate, channelize and become turbulent. This can and will cause not only the rapid deterioration of the trails themselves but the resulting erosion has a potentially large negative impact on plants, wildlife and nearby water sources.

If people are allowed to venture out onto Lookout Mountain these types of unsustainable trails will inevitably form, whether those individuals are hikers or mountain bikers is of no consequence in this regard. There are really only two effective solutions to mitigate the environmental damage caused by use — the first is to lock the gates and not allow use of the property, the residents of Spearfish would have to enjoy Lookout from afar. The second and far more reasonable option is to simply admit that even limited use has environmental ramifications and that the best way to keep this resource as natural as possible is to manage that use.

Management of Lookout Mountain would simply entail an assessment of the current user-established trails and remediation where necessary. Where trails can be seen to be creating environmental damage or erosion those trails should either be fixed or where that is not possible the existing trails would need to be reclaimed and rehabilitated and new sustainable trails created in place of the old. It is possible to create trails that do not cause any of the adverse environmental effects outlined above, but those trails must be engineered from the outset in a responsible and environmentally sustainable way. This is part of what the Spearfish STAR (Spearfish Trails and Recreation) Committee proposes to do on Lookout Mountain.

Addressing the root causes of trail damage through implementation of sustainable trail design and maintenance practices is the best way to ensure Lookout Mountain is saved for the enjoyment of future generations.

Best Regards,

Samuel J. Greear
Executive Director
Black Hills Trails

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  • Sep 16, 2013
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Public Lands Day 2013

Part of what Public Lands Day is about is taking ownership of wonderful public assets that belong to all of us, improving them and developing a sense of pride in our publicly owned land. Many Black Hills Trails volunteers dedicated their time on Saturday, September 14, 2013 to improving publicly owned land in two different Black Hills communities.

Five Black Hills Trails volunteers spent over four hours of their Saturday morning working on the Oak Park Trail in Whitewood and were able to add several hundred feet of new trail.


Nearly a dozen Black Hills Trails volunteers attended the Bureau of Land Management sponsored Public Lands Day event at the Fort Meade Recreation Area bordering Sturgis. These individuals were able to assist the BLM and other volunteers in the installation of a handful of equestrian-friendly gates and the refurbishment of several rollovers utilized by hikers/runners and mountain bikers.


If you would like to get involved, there is no reason to wait for Public Lands Day 2014. There are ongoing projects in many Black Hills communities, keep checking our Projects Page or our Calendar for more details.

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  • Jul 11, 2013
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Lookout Mountain

Many individuals participate in many forms of recreation on Lookout Mountain in Spearfish, with almost any venture onto the trail system there you will almost without a doubt have a friendly encounter with other hikers, cyclists or runners. A recent Spearfish City Council meeting has however brought to light that this type of use was perhaps not the intent when the City purchased the property on which Lookout sits, as an article in the Black Hills Pioneer explains (

Those that have experienced the existing trail system on Lookout will know that erosion has run rampant and that no small amount of resource damage is occurring. Recreational trail users of all types and conservation need not be mutually exclusive, the land, vegetation and wildlife would benefit from a more responsibly designed and maintained trail system on Lookout. An improved trail system would also bring many social benefits to the City.

This is your call-to-action. Live in Spearfish? Contact your council-person and express your support for the responsible ideas brought forth by the STAR committee. Don’t live in Spearfish? Spread the word to those who do.

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  • Jul 08, 2013
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New website

The new Black Hills Trails site is now live, although a bit sparse at the moment. Significant changes and additions are expecting in the coming weeks and months.

The maps and mapping functionality of has been given to the Black Hills Trails organization and incorporated into this new site. As the maps and mapping functionality are extended and enhanced the website will eventually be phased out altogether.

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