Dakota Adventure Loop (DakAL) 900 miles. Mt. Rushmore. South Dakota.

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by blasterbill, Sep 10, 2013.

  1. blasterbill

    blasterbill SAICON

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    900+ mile motorcycle adventure loop through western South Dakota. The loop ride concept provides no backtracking of previously ridden terrain and you eventually end just where you started. Convenient starting/ending points are: Edgemont, Hot Springs, Hill City, Custer, Savoy, Belle Fourche, Buffalo and Sturgis. This route provides an immense diversity of riding surfaces and visual delights.
    The inaugural ride with 21 riders from around the country was completed on July 12, 2013. The DakAL received rave reviews from all riders and left them wanting more. visit http://www.dakotaadventureloop.com for information, photos, and GPS tracks.
    #1
  2. His Pistolship

    His Pistolship Kp calm, shoot alfas

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    Awesome idea. Thanks for the hard work. Looking forward to the gpx files.
    #2
  3. Sleddog

    Sleddog Currently Benched

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    First, I want to thank Bill for creating the DakAL. We all like to ride & find new places to explore. I've been going to the Black Hills for over 50 years & am always amazed at finding new places I've never been to. This Loop takes you to some of the best views & trails of the Hills & surrounding areas. Putting it all together, documenting & sharing it is no easy task. This really is an Adventure riders ride:clap

    My Brother (KB7TGR) & I rode through British Columbia to Hyder, Alaska in June, this year, via the Kettle Valley Railroad Trail, Trans Canada Trail, Forest service roads & gravel. He on a new CRF 250 L, me on a KLR. After returning from there we both sold our KLR's, I bought a WR 250 R. We were anxious for another DS ride. I got the tracks for the DakAL & set the weekend of September 14th to start. My Brother still has a job:(: & didn't think he'd be able to do the entire 4 day ride. However, he called Monday & asked how much notice I needed to start on Thursday, Duh! I had planned to ride the TSDAT http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=719982&highlight=sleddog out to the Hills, but if we were starting early I'd haul out.

    We met at a friends cabin, near Custer Wednesday evening.

    Loaded & ready

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    The Loop starts & ends in the historic town of Rockerville

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    After a few miles of pavement we're on some well maintained gravel

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    I was familiar with the area we were in & thought in a few miles we should be getting into more of this:clap Jim said "even if we don't I've never been on this road & it's cool"

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    Just before this gate we came through some nice single track (cow path) I told Jim "Yes, I AM following the track" There were many gates to open & close. This is Public land, the Ranchers lease grazing rights from the Forest Service. We talked to the Rancher that owned these cattle. Extremely nice guy & was glad that we were enjoying seeing the Hills as the locals do!

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    The Jasper fire burned through the area in August of 2000. Consuming over 80,000 acres. 13 years later this is what it looks like. Thick green grass for wildlife, water now runs through creeks that were dry from all the trees sucking the moisture out of the ground. As devastating as forest fires are, there is good that come from them.

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    A view overlooking Jewel National Cave area. Just South of the above picture.

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    A Black Hills Trail permit is required for access to some of the trails. Cost is $20.00 for 7 days or a year is $25.00, plus "convenience" fees & shipping charges. :deal They use the money for trail improvements & maintenance. One benefit is they install these raised cattle guards to ride over. Well worth the the price of entry to not have to open & close gates all the time:evil

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    A small area that reminds me of being in Utah

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    At one point you ride several miles of what I call "Gravel Slab"....good road that you can ride 50 - 60 (or more) MPH on. After several miles you jump off onto a very nice, remote section of trail. Winding it's way through & around deep ravines. Some of it challenging. I missed this turn & ran into a dead end about a 1/4 mile past it. I came back & looked at it & decided to walk up to see what it was like at the top.

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    This was blocking the path.

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    Being I was by myself (yup, I'll explain) I turned around & intersected the "Gravel Slab". Just as I turned around it started to rain. This stuff turns to snot if you sneeze hard! I was glad I made the decision not to attempt going further. The rest of the ride was in pouring rain all the way to Edgemont, Hot Springs & back to Custer.

    A day or so before we started the ride the Hills had received a pretty good rain storm, as evidenced by the numerous mud holes along the route. One of the muddy spots was just over a hill & couldn't be seen until the last second. I was leading & managed to swing wide & miss it. Jim had dropped back & didn't see me swerve, well....he wasn't so lucky (Thursday the 12th I suppose:wink:) He hit the mud hole right up the middle & went down. I went quite a ways before noticing he wasn't behind me. As I backtracked, further & further I knew it wasn't good. Finally, I saw him coming. He told me what happened & said his leg was hurting pretty good, but he could go on. After a few miles we stopped for a rest. I asked if he wanted to wrap his leg with an Ace bandage. He took off his boot & the lower leg was swollen pretty good. We were just a few miles from Custer, I suggested he go have it checked out. If it wasn't broke we could go on but, there was no reason to take chances.

    The X-Ray told the story, he wouldn't be finishing the DakAL this trip!

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    So with the rains that came Friday & wet trails, I made the decision to cancel the rest of the ride & finish another time.

    I'll post more as I complete it! If the rest of the loop is anything like the 1st days it will be awesome. I can't wait to finish.

    Sleddog
    #3
  4. blasterbill

    blasterbill SAICON

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    The GPS tracks and other info is now available at the Dakota Adventure Loop (DakAL) website . Download, ride it, tell us of your adventures!
    http://www.dakotaadventureloop.com/


    :freaky
    #4
  5. STRich

    STRich Adventurer

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    The Cities, MN
    Tell Jim to quit banging up that left leg......
    Is this a habit? :)
    Rich
    #5
  6. Sleddog

    Sleddog Currently Benched

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    He said it was the other leg last time! He does seem to pick places that have pretty cute Nurses though:D

    You should load up & come on out to ride the DakAL, fall colors are in their prime!:clap

    Sleddog
    #6
  7. littlelionmonster

    littlelionmonster Custom Faker

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    Nice report - bummer about the leg. Man, I miss the Plains. Grew up going to the Black hills for short summer vacations.

    Another trip to add to the list :clap
    #7
  8. Sleddog

    Sleddog Currently Benched

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    Thanks LLM, After traveling & viewing magnificent scenery all over the world, it amazes me how I never tire of spending time in the Hills. There seems to always be something new I haven't seen before. Hope you can make it back some day:deal

    Sleddog
    #8
  9. blasterbill

    blasterbill SAICON

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    OK sleddog... I rode down to TR3100 of the DakAl ( north of Edgemont and off FRD16) yesterday and cleared all of the down trees. There was also one washed out section this is now passable. You now have clear sailing. This is a really cool section with sterilized soil from last high intensity fire. Full disclosure: This section has 4 significant technical sections. Big bikes beware. If you are riding a 750+ cc make sure you bring your full backpack of talent along. :clap
    #9
  10. malibu_dan

    malibu_dan Adventuring Mystic

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    Sorry you didn't get to finish this time out, Jack. Looking forward to the next installment.

    :lurk
    #10
  11. Sleddog

    Sleddog Currently Benched

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    Thanks Bill,
    That section is very scenic, it'll be fun to complete the entire ride through the canyon. Looks like I'll be heading back out on the 26th. Hopefully the weather will cooperate.

    Hello Dan, Nice to have you along. The WR is the bomb, notice the seat.....Now it's mine:evil

    Sleddog
    #11
  12. Sleddog

    Sleddog Currently Benched

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    I was anxious to finish riding the DakAL this fall, before the snows came. I put the word out that I wanted to go back, & ScottM contacted me. He had been in the Hills with his Wife, they had been riding the trails, the same time my Brother & I had been. He was ready to head back & ride the DakAl. We headed out on Friday the 27th (My 44th Anniversary!) Gotta love a women that'll let you go riding on your Anniversary:deal

    We woke to a heavy frost on Saturday morning. We took our time getting ready & set the bikes in the sun to thaw out

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    We started at the same place we had before so ScottM could ride the entire route. This time, there were no trees blocking the trails & not near as many mud holes.

    The trails were in good shape, scenery was excellent!

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    We rode to the Nebraska Border for the obligatory Picture

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    From the Nebraska border the route has you backtrack to the town of Edgemont & ride East through the Wild Horse Sanctuary. With a water Crossing at the White River. It was very windy & we chose to ride the asphalt straight to Hot Springs. We had just come down this road & didn't feel like riding it again.

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    On the way past the Horse Sanctuary we did ride in to take a look at the water crossing. The depth was about a foot deep & I was able to cross. You want to stop & take a look at the ripples & cross toward the West side. I didn't & hit a big "shelf" & fell down! There were a couple locals there that told me where to go on the way back across, it was easy!

    Our 1st day ended in Hot Springs.

    More to come
    #12
  13. Sleddog

    Sleddog Currently Benched

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    Sunday morning it was much warmer than the previous day, no frost on the seats, we got an earlier start!

    Todays route starts out by taking you through some of the most scenic roads in the Black Hills, including Wind Cave National Park, Custer State Park, Wildlife loop, Pigtail Hiway & past Mount Rushmore, all on asphalt. We had both ridden these roads several times in the past & wanted to get back on the dirt. We be lined to Hill City, had breakfast & continued North on good gravel via China Gulch Road. There are an amazing amount of trails throughout the Hills. For someone not familiar with the area, it's easy to run into several dead ends. One of the good things about running the DakAl is that you know you're on trails that go someplace.

    The day was sunny & clear, at the tops of lookouts you could see for miles. I noticed a waypoint for Castle Peak lookout on my GPS. So we took the detour to the top.

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    At the top were the remains of a Fire watch tower. I wish the tower was still there, the view would have been great from above the trees!

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    After going back down & hooking up with the plotted trail again we were back on some good gravel. And pretty soon were going through Black Fox Canyon.

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    And after that we're in Wyoming!

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    We rode up to Cement Ridge Lookout

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    We met Chris at the top of the lookout. He was riding a super nice 1978 XL 250 R

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    We deviated again from the planned route that normally goes up the Popular & Scenic, Spearfish Canyon. preferring to stay on gravel. Our route took us past the old mining town of Tinton. It's now private property, there are several locks on the gates. Chris told us there are about 3 or 4 streets back in the trees & several buildings, where the town was laid out. People have ran sacked through everything through the years which has caused them to close it off.

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    One of the most famous miners in the area was "Potato Creek Johnny". www.legendsofamerica.com/sd-potatocreekjohnny.html He, allegedly found one of the largest Gold nuggets in the world!

    This is the remains of the last Cabin he lived in.

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    We rode along Potato Creek, you could still see the mounds of dirt piled up along it, leftover from mining years ago.
    There are even a few current miners with active claims along Potato Creek!

    We finished our ride into Spearfish by taking the Higgins Gulch Road. A very nice, non crowded gravel road.

    Day three next.

    Sleddog
    #13
  14. Sleddog

    Sleddog Currently Benched

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    Day three started in Spearfish. I was anxious to see what the day brought for riding & scenery, as we were leaving the core of the Black Hills & heading North, into what I thought would be less "Scenic" country. I've ridden my street bike through here several times. The hiways gently wind their way through the rolling Prairie, offering big views & fast sweeping curves.

    Being on the gravel offered the same views but somehow it's more pleasing!

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    Some of the roads take you through the local Ranch areas

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    Ranchers were herding their cattle to winter pastures. We stopped as they walked them across the road. This Rancher came over to say hello.

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    Scott still has the factory fuel tank so we didn't pass up any opportunities for gas. Camp Crook is a convenient stop.

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    You can buy just about anything you want there too!

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    Inside there is a mini museum of the local history

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    Soon after leaving Camp Crook the road takes us to the Custer National Forest! I've lived in South Dakota most of my life & didn't realize this was even here! I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised.

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    What an abrupt change from just a few miles ago

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    Again, I was surprised by the views

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    We came in on the road in the distance

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    The fall colors were just about in their prime

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    Most of the trail is two track

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    The trail takes you up & down into the canyons.

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    Some of them get the adrenaline pumping!

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    I'm glad we were on 250's instead of bigger bikes. It would have been tough to lift a heavier bike out of here!

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    Just as we are leaving CNF, Scott hollered at me on the radio. He said "Jack, you might want to come back, I've got a little problem" I went back & saw his jacket liner wrapped up in the rear wheel.

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    The jacket was wrapped around & part of it was wedged in between the brake pads & rotor. We had to take the rear wheel & caliper off to get it out. Just as we were putting our gear back on, the winds & rain came. Wind was blowing 40 MPH.

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    We were just a few miles from the North Dakota border & rode up to get the obligatory picture!

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    The closest town is Buffalo, SD. There is one Motel in town. It was about 5:00 PM as we were riding from the Border to town. It was cold, windy & raining. We were in the Bakken oil field area were there is, of course, lots of workers. We had checked the internet, for a Motel in Buffalo, the night before but, had not made reservations! If we were not able to get a room it was going to be a long ride to Belle Fourche or Spearfish for a room! Fortunately we arrived & there was a "Yes" sign & we were able to get a room. If you're planning on riding this area, it would be good to make reservations.

    The next morning the route heads East. In the distance, you can see a big ridge running North & South. It's another loop through cattle pastures that takes you up into some more great riding with spectacular views.

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    From here, the route heads back toward Sturgis, then goes back on to trails through the Hills ending where it started, Rockerville.

    On the way you'll go by Hoover, another unique little store with friendly owners with amusing stories of the area you'll enjoy listening to.

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    I was amazed at the quality of riding we had been on the last four days. It is at the top of the list of places I've ridden my Dual Sport bikes. Including the CDR, Copper Canyon & Backroads through British Columbia to Alaska! This really is a quality ride, if you get a chance to ride the DakAL, you won't be disappointed:deal

    Hope you enjoyed the Report!

    Sleddog
    #14
  15. terpaksangaskus

    terpaksangaskus Lonerider

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    nice landscape, keep moving brother :freaky
    #15
  16. rokklym

    rokklym one man wolfpack

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    Sign me up! South Dakota is one of my favorite places to ride, I'll be doing this next spring. :D
    #16
  17. Bob

    Bob Formerly H20Pumper

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    Thanks for the report, looks very nice.
    #17
  18. Streeter

    Streeter Has Coping Skills

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    That looks like a great ride, I'd love to do it sometime.

    Paul Streeter
    #18
  19. STRich

    STRich Adventurer

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    Time to plan a visit for 2014!!!!
    Awesme pics Jack.
    Thanks for sharing,
    Rich
    #19
  20. Powershouse

    Powershouse Flower Sniffer

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    Looks like he "Corwined" that jacket!

    :D

    Thanks for the report Jack! sign me up to do this next year.

    Kevin
    #20