Published December 27, 2010, 01:30 PM

Top notch cross country skiing & snowshoeing available on the Black Hills National Forest

Custer, SD – Winter is here and it is the opportune time to get out and explore the many cross country skiing and snowshoeing trails available on the Black Hills National Forest.

By: Press Release, Black Hills National Forest

Custer, SD – Winter is here and it is the opportune time to get out and explore the many cross country skiing and snowshoeing trails available on the Black Hills National Forest.

Several of the Forest's hiking trails are open to cross-country skiing during the winter months, including the Deerfield Lake Loop Trail, Eagle Cliff Trails, Big Hill Trails, Sundance Trail system, and the Beaver Creek Ski Trails.

Big Hill and Eagle Cliff Trails, in the northern hills, are groomed for cross-country skiing in cooperation with the Black Hills Nordic Ski Club. Contributions can be made to assist with maintenance of the trails at the donation box at the trailhead. These offer miles of trails ranging in difficulty.

The Big Hill Ski Trail system consists of five loop trails and one spur trail, for a total distance of 13.6 miles. There is a Big Hill Trail designated specifically for snow shoeing. “We ask that snowshoers not use the groomed ski trails,” said Bonnie Jones, Northern Hills Recreation Specialist. “Snowshoeing damages the tracks that the ski clubs work hard to establish and maintain. Snowshoe damage makes it very difficult to ski on the tracks.”

With twenty-one intertwining loops and dead-end trails, the Eagle Cliff Trail system offers fun and challenge at every turn. Trails range from short, rugged and remote to longer, looping trails with a range of difficulty. “The opportunity to combine trails and create a unique experience is only one of the highlights of this system,” said Jones.

The Beaver Creek Ski Trail system, located approximately 17 miles northeast of Newcastle, Wyoming, consists of six trails with a total distance of 12.9 miles. The six trails are the Porcupine Trail, Dry Beaver Trail, Highland Trail, Mallo Trail, Sunshine Trail and Highnoon Trail. The Mallo Trail is a groomed snowmobile trail. “Please use caution when skiing on this trail,” said Dave Pickford, Hell Canyon Recreation Specialist.

The Sundance Trail System weaves through the network of densely-forested canyons and winding open ridges that form the Bearlodge Mountains in Wyoming. From some ridge tops you can see the Custer Expedition Route, Devils Tower, and the Twin Missouri Buttes. “This secluded trail system provides one of the most primitive recreational opportunities in the Black Hills,” said Jeanette Timm, Bearlodge Recreation Specialist. “Parts of the trail have existed since the 1800s. They were the routes to reliable water, the only access to some parts of the mountains, and a key part of the rich mining history of the Bearlodge Mountains.”

“A three-mile portion of the Deerfield Trail, on the Mystic Ranger District, also called the Crouch Line, connects Canyon City with Silver City and is suitable for cross-country sking when snow conditions permit,” said Amy Ballard, Mystic Recreation Specialist. White spruce and ponderosa pine tower over the trail along this roadless stretch of Rapid Creek. Wide wood bridges cross the creek several times. To access this portion of the Deerfield Trail, use the Silver City Trailhead located at the end of the road, just west of Silver City.

Many other trails are available for cross country and snowshoeing use. Please visit http://www.fs.usda.gov/blackhills for more information and to access Google maps, under the recreation tab, for the sites listed above.

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