Forest Service introduces first Black Hills designed multi-use trail

Located north of Buzzards Roost by Hisega and adding 25 miles among four different paths, Shanks Trailhead is the first designed non-motorized and motorized trail in the Black Hills.

BLACK HILLS, S.D. — There are thousands of miles in trails to explore in the Black Hills National Forest.

That millage increased when the U.S. Forest service welcomed the planning for another on Friday.

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Located north of Buzzards Roost by Hisega and adding 25 miles among four different paths, Shanks Trailhead is the first designed non-motorized and motorized trail in the Black Hills.

The new additions to the trail will include:

  • 15 miles for non-motorized trails for hikers, runners and mountain bikers.
  • Approximately five miles of motorized single track for motorcycles.
  • Approximately five miles of motorized for Off Highway Vehicles (OHV’s).
  • Approximately five miles of trail system that will be of shared use or motorized and non-motorized.

“We have all those types of trails in here there’s other areas where they like Buzzards (peak) nearby that there’s no motorized in there, it’s just non motorized, so the Shanks was a unique project and we’re happy that this is the first one that’s gone through because it really will highlight that multi-use aspect,” said Kent Jacobs, the Rapid City Zone Lead with Black Hills Trails.

It’s also the first time that agencies like the Forest Service, South Dakota Trails Development Corporation and Black Hills Trails have worked together.

“What we’re doing today, I think, is a historic development for the Black Hills,” said Bill Hearn, the President of South Dakota Trails Development Corporation. “For the first time ever, that what has historically been competing user groups have come together to create multiple-use trails, and the end result is that everybody wins.”

The Shanks Trail System and $80,000 to $100,000 project will include new construction that will re-route to existing trails, like the Schroeder Motorized Trail, creating a looped system.

Hikers, bicyclists, motorcycles and OHV’s up to 62 inches will be on trails creating a unique challenge for those tasked with construction

“They generally, if you build a trail correctly, can generate about the same mode of travel and speed for both users,” said Ben Schumacher, the District Recreation and Land Staff Officer for the Mystic Ranger District. “So going in the same direction, you might not even see each other if they were going. If you design it incorrectly, then we’re going to have erosion problems, user conflicts and it won’t last.”

Construction is set to start in the next few weeks with completion coming in 2022.

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