Winter Sports

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Winter is a great time to explore the Black Hills National Forest! Every winter season, Forest officials open snowmobile, cross country ski, fat bike and snowshoe trails in the Black Hills area and close seasonal gates across the Forest.

Ice fishermen and ice skaters can also enjoy their sport on the area lakes and reservoirs. Please remember that boat ramps are not plowed or maintained for access to the ice at Pactola Reservoir, Deerfield Reservoir and Sheridan Lake. Ice conditions fluctuate and anglers and skaters are reminded to use caution when travelling over the ice. Check the newspaper and at local fishing and bait shops for local ice conditions and fishing reports.

The Black Hills Snowmobile Trail System is maintained through a cooperative effort between the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department - Division of Parks and Recreation, (SDGF&P) the USDA Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Barrick Mining Company, Warf Resources and numerous private landowners. In the 1.2 million-acre Black Hills National Forest, there are a total of 416 miles of groomed snowmobile trails. The South Dakota and Wyoming Snowmobile Program includes 350 miles. An additional 66 miles of groomed trails are in the Bearlodge Mountains of the Black Hills National Forest and are operated through separate agreements with the WY Division of State Parks and Historic Sites, State of WY and WY Trails and volunteers from the Sundance Snowmobile Association.

There are a few areas closed to snowmobiling including active logging operations, winter wildlife range, plowed roadways, developed cross-country ski areas and posted private land. Be aware that numerous parcels of private property are interspersed within the Black Hills National Forest. PLEASE respect private property owners. "No Trespassing" means "No Snowmobiling."

During the winter, the SDGF&P snowmobile grooming operation is based out of the Hardy Guard Station, a Forest Service owned facility. SDGF&P employees also stay in the historic houses after their shifts of grooming or law enforcement activity.

Snowmobile maps are available on the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks website or from one of the local Forest Service offices. The snowmobiling season for the Black Hills is December 15th through March 31st.

Please do not drive snowmobiles on plowed roads. Plowed roads are used for full sized vehicles and there is a real possibility that you may encounter a loaded log truck that doesn’t have the ability to stop quickly, especially on icy roads.

Several of the Forest's hiking trails are open to cross-country skiing and snowshoeing 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, Eagle Cliff and the Sundance Trail system are partially groomed in cooperation with the Black Hills Nordic Ski Club, Eagle Cliff Ski Association, WY State Trails and local Bearlodge nordic ski club. Please practice trail courtesy and share the trail. Snowshoe hikers, please use the unbroken snow beside cross country skier tracks and not on top of ski tracks.

Officials ask Forest visitors to always be aware of their surroundings. Recently thinned areas are sometimes subject to blow down of remaining live trees that depended on adjacent trees for support during strong winds. Winter recreationists should be especially aware when nearing dead trees, whether or not there is wind, as dead trees have been known to fall without warning.

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities