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

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

  1. Sleddog

    Sleddog Ridin, again:)

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    Brian,

    Because many of the trails are not roads, using the routing feature is frustrating. Quiet a few of the trails are not on most gps maps so, will re-route onto available roads or draw a straight line to the next one. Any devise that is able to follow tracks will be the best....smart phones or gps.

    Cheers!
    #81
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  2. Rave

    Rave Adventurer

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    MotionX GPS is the way to go for the iPhone. It's as good or better than my Garmin Zumo. Look it up.

    Just have a charger rigged to your battery on your bike , as having it on all day will drain the battery.
    #82
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  3. mrfixit54016

    mrfixit54016 Wisconsin Dual Sporter

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    3 of us are planning to ride the entire route this summer. GPS tracks are loaded, Maps and trail permits have been purchased.

    Does anyone have a good camping spot in the Edgemont area and the Belle Fourche area. Primitive camping is fine, water nearby is a plus. Not sure if there are any campgrounds in these areas with showers.

    We plan to stay in Hill City at a hotel, camp around Edgemont, camp around Bell Fourche, and probably camp at the Picnic Springs Campground north of Buffalo. GPS coordinates are fine if you have them.

    Thanks In Advance!
    #83
  4. BCB1080

    BCB1080 Know what you don't Know

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    You could camp by Orman Reservoir near Belle Fourche. It has primitive camping and developed sites I believe. I've never actually camped there personally. I just go wake surf when invited.
    Just call the ranger/fish & Wildlife dept. they'd tell you all of the available amenities.
    #84
  5. Sleddog

    Sleddog Ridin, again:)

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    I wouldn't get locked into making reservations. Trail conditions can drastically change anticipated destination locations.

    If you can go an evening without shower I'd recommend camping Southeast of Buffalo, on top of the butte at N45.50201 W103.20481
    #85
  6. mrfixit54016

    mrfixit54016 Wisconsin Dual Sporter

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    Thanks Sleddog and BCB1080, those both look good. Anybody have a tip for camping near Edgemont?
    #86
  7. Lonesome Dave

    Lonesome Dave Adventurer

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    I'd say that entire town is pretty laid back. I would bet that if you called the local police department and/or City Admin office and ask about tent camping in the city park for a night they'd say sure. Just an idea.
    #87
  8. Sleddog

    Sleddog Ridin, again:)

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    #88
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  9. ewommack

    ewommack Adventurer

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    I am going to be riding as much of this ride as I can starting the weekend of the 17th of this month. If anyone is planning on riding around that time feel free to pm me. I'm somewhat flexible on my schedule.
    #89
  10. mrfixit54016

    mrfixit54016 Wisconsin Dual Sporter

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    So, has anyone completed all or part of the Dakal recently? We are riding the whole route next week, so I was really hoping for some updates on trail conditions, sections to avoid, any updates at all really.

    Looking forward to this adventure!
    #90
  11. FirstPath

    FirstPath Long timer

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    58 minutes of pure awesomeness!!
    #91
  12. Lonesome Dave

    Lonesome Dave Adventurer

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    I know as soon as I say this, I'll be wrong......but here goes. Conditions out here are getting very dry, so the fire danger will be going up. Expect to have more dust, however this is the time of year when thunderstorms will often form in the afternoon. The problem out here has been the aftermath of a storm a couple years ago. We have lots of bug trees that are dead and the storm helped blow a lot of them over. I should add, if your in the Black Hills and a strong wind or thunderstorm passed through, often the trail will be different than the day before. A small hand saw will usually get you through by sawing off branches and lifting bike over a tree or usually just go around. (Bike has to be smaller!!)

    We just had our spring dual sport rally last weekend. http://www.dakotadualsportriders.com/smf/index.php?board=45.0 I rode four days and never really ran into any trail problems and I didn't hear of any complaints from anyone else. In fact, the trails were much more open than they were last year. Water Crossings; should be fine or on the lower end of the scale. Haven't had much rain this year. But remember about thunderstorms, that can change everything for at least short time.

    Short story, I don't think you'll have any trouble. When you get to the top of Bear Mountain, be sure and tell "Coleen" that Lonesome Dave says hi. We usually stop by there 2 or 3 times a year. Don't worry, they/she won't mind if you walk up the stairs to the fire lookout for a tour. But if there's a fire or lightening storm going on, she won't have much time for you! Going south towards NE and north up to ND I think your trails will be fine, just dusty. Have fun!
    #92
  13. mrfixit54016

    mrfixit54016 Wisconsin Dual Sporter

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    Thanks lonesome Dave! Bikes are ready, and we leave tomorrow(Sunday) at 7:00 am from the Minneapolis Area to head out there. Riding starts Monday!
    #93
  14. kknuth

    kknuth Out east!

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    Ride report from June 26-29 2016 Dakal Trip

    June 26th
    6:30AM
    We (MrFixIt54016, MN450Wrider, Kknuth) meet in Lakeville, MN to load everything on MrFixIt's trailer. His Suburban did a great job towing the three bikes to Hill City SD which was to be the location of our basecamp. Our bikes of choice for this ride were:
    MrFixIt54016 = 1994 650XRL
    MN450Wrider = 2005 KLR
    Kknuth - 2001 DR650SE
    MrFixIt and MN450 had larger and smaller bikes to choose from, but 650cc class bikes seemed to be a good compromise for this trip seeing that we needed to haul camping gear. As you can see from the photos all had oversized tanks and that is pretty much required on this route.

    5:00 PM
    First victim was the KLR windscreen. It did not like the highway trailer speeds and cracked. We remove it before arriving. 5PM Arrived at Spring Creek Inn (basic place, but let us leave the truck and trailer there), checked in, unloaded the bikes, and then road into Hill City's main street to have a burger at "Desperados". Not bad. Good burgers and beer.
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    June 27th
    7:00AM we gassed up in Hill City and then headed south on track SC1. Sun was out and temp was around 60 degrees. Initial roads were normal gravel winding through the back country. Great scenery, farms, etc. Deer everywhere. We followed the track heading to Bear Mountain. This is were it started to get interesting. Gravel or dirt roads turned to jeep trails, then to sideXside trails with softball sized or larger rocks. You really had to pick your way through them and stay in 1st gear most the time. The ascent up Bear mountain was a good challenge on the 650's. Even though the morning was cool I think we all broke a sweat. The bikes tractored up the steep incline just fine though. MrFixIt did notice that the rough trail had caused gas to spill out the top of his XR tank. Turned out the gasket in his gas tank was missing. He continued to lose gas during the day.
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    8:45AM we were at the top of Bear Mountain gawking at the views. Very pretty and worth the work getting there. At 9:00AM the forest ranger showed up for work in the tower. "Doc" gave us a tour of the tower and explained what was what, including the haze coming from fires in Wyoming.
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    9:30AM Back on the trail still heading south on track SC1. The conditions were very dry, so it seemed like either we were creating a cloud of dust on the gravel roads, or picking through rocks on the ridgeline trails. The temp was really heating up, and I for one was really sweating even though I had just a t-shirt and mesh jacket on top, and vented riding pants on bottom.
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    Noonish
    We stopped in the shade of a small forest to have a snack, water, and rest a bit. Chatter was mostly about how hot it was and how long it would take to get to Edgemont where there was gas. We headed out again and the afternoon was mostly twisty gravel and grassy cattle land. Oh..and lots of Cattle Gates to open and close. LOTS of them. The views of the mountains, hills, creeks, etc. were often so beautiful it distracted you from watching the trail. I launched off a melon sized rock hidden in the grass in the afternoon, which sent my front tire in the air and to the left. This was almost a bad get-off. I decided to take it a little slower in the rocky areas from then on.



    1PM or so
    Veered off the GPS track to stop at Jewel Cave visitor center for some cold drinks. It was a real ordeal to get change for the vending machine...but that is another story.
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    3:30PM or so
    We were getting close to Edgemont. We could have taken a shortcut and gone around the loop in the GPS track that went through coal ridge. But we decided we had the time and gas, plus the GPS track looked really fun. We didn't know what we were in for. The Coal Ridge area was like Death Valley. It was a burnt out forest fire area with a warning sign at the entrance that said, "No vehicles over 62" wide". The reason for this is that the trails were very rocky and clung to the side of the cliffs with very little room for error. These trails were meant for sideXsides or small bikes. Once again we were thumping along in 1st or 2nd (we later said we all really wanted a 1.5 gear) picking our way through the rocks trying not to fall over the edge. Temps were peaking and we were sweating good now. This was a very challenging part of the DAKAL, but if you go slow and don't ride over your level, I think anyone can do this. Maybe not so much on a 1000CC+ bike. Unfortunately I have no goo pics or vids of this section except for the 3rd one below which doesn't do it justice.
    Near the end of this area there is a small rocky hill climb. Normally it would be a good challenge but doable. However there is a large tree down on the trail. Its NOT sawable with a trail saw. MN450Wrider found a path around it, but it meant approaching the incline from the side, then turning on some large rocks and heading straight up. Picking the right line in this scenario was a challenge. MN450Wrider made it look easy. MrFixIt was next but right at the start came too close to the boulders and it slammed into his left pannier, bending the frame. I followed last and luckily the DR pulled me up the rocks safely.
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    5:00PM
    Arrive in Edgemont. Its a complete ghost town. Nothing is open and we don't see a gas station. Luckily I had added POI's to the Dakal tracks and it lead us to the highway on the edge of town where 2 gas stations resided. The overpacked XR got the worst gas mileage and used 4.7 gallons. The KLR did the best and only used 2.85 gallons (141 miles). It was while filling up that MrFixIt noticed his rear shock seal had blown. He was dripping shock fluid and the back end was getting "bouncy". His tank bag and accessories were also soaked with gas from the leaking gas cap, AND he found a 3" nail in his rear tire. Now was the time for some real noodling between the three of us to figure out what to do. The nail was nothing, had just pierced a knobby, and caused no real damage. We all went through our packs looking for something to make a gas cap gasket out of. Nothing was really working, but then MrFixIt found coffee cup covers in the gas station that were circular and just about the right size if you cut off the outside edge. Three of them stacked together did the trick. The last problem was the shock. A call was placed to the Honda dealer in Rapid City but they couldn't get parts for 4-5 days. As the problems were being solved a large black bank of clouds were coming in fast from Nebraska. We could see the heavy rain in the distance. We had to move fast. Riding east on the Dakal track wasn't really an option. We would get soaked and we didn't know how rough the trail was going to be on the broken shock. So the decision was made to just ride north on Hwy 89 to get into the Black Hills National Forest as quick as possible, find a random forest road, dive into a clearing and setup camp ASAP.

    5:30PM A ways north of Pringle we find a forest road to the west. Rain and hail were already catching up with us and were were slightly wet. A mile into the trail we find a clearing by some large rock outcroppings. All of use start stripping the bikes of gear to get to the tents and supplies. JUST as we got the rain flys on the tents the storm really hit. Heavy rain, hail, lighting, etc. We spent an hour laying in the tents waiting for it to pass. It did, and MrFixIt setup his large Kelty tarp so we could have an area to cook in case the next wave of rain hit. It didn't. The rest of the night was dry, as we made supper, smoked cigars, and talked about the day.
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    June 28th
    7:00AM
    Camp was packed up, breakfast was eaten, and a plan was hatched to head straight east using some forest roads to meet up with the SC2 DAKAL track. The day two tracks looked mostly paved and easy gravel, so we figured even with the XR leaking shock oil it wouldn't be a problem. The forest roads had GREAT scenery and we popped out of the woods right at Custer park entrance. As we came out of the woods we saw something large and black on the road. Eek! A bison. We slowly went by the beast as he gave us the stink eye. We then headed into Custer. I wasn't really looking forward to this part of the trail because I figured it was the usual 20mph paved tourist loop. Boy was I wrong. Initially yes it was the park's wildlife loop (bison, antelope, donkeys, etc.), but the track quickly veered off onto an almost totally unused gravel road. The scenery was amazing. On the way out I even saw a huge bull elk standing next to the road. It was around that time we noticed the KLR had no headlight or tail light. So we kept MN450Wrider between us on the road until we could get back to Hill City for a repair.
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    Noonish:
    From there the rest of the morning was spent filling up again in the city of Custer, speeding through Needles Highway, enjoying the roller coaster like paved twisties. We were in Keystone by Noon and had lunch at Grizzly Creek (Fish Tacos recommended). We created a modified route back to Hill City on Old Hill City road. Another afternoon thunderstorm was coming in and we wanted shelter quick.
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    1:30PM
    It started pouring a few miles outside Hill City and didn't stop until evening. We were glad to check in at the Spring Creek Inn again, and push the KLR under the eves of the motel outside our room to work on it. Initially we figured it was a fuse, but it looked fine, so another hour or two was spent checking the circuit. In the end, it WAS the fuse. It seemed the connections in the fuse holder were just dirty. Problem solved.


    4:00PM
    A hot shower felt good, and we were off to supper on the Praire Berry Winery and Brewery. So many restaurants in the Blackhills just served burgers and fries. It was good to have a change of pace with a Salmon open faced sandwhich and soup.
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    7:00PM
    Forecast was for heavy rain and storms the next afternoon and into Thursday. That combined with the pogo'ing suspension on the XR made us think twice about continuing the DAKAL. We looked over the maps and decided to ride all the next morning before the rain hit, then hop on the highway back to Hill City, pack up and head home. It was a tough decision, but we felt like we had seen and ridden most of what the DAKAL had to offer and had really enjoyed it. We did not want to ruin it with 2 days of rain riding and come away miserable.

    June 29th
    7:00 AM
    We were off again following the DAKAL gpx track up China Gulch road right across the street from the motel. This section for the next 2 hours was probably my favorite of the trip. Fire roads, jeep trails, twisty paths along Castle Creek, and towering rocks all around you. Plus, after all the rain it was no longer dusty and there was even some mud to make it interesting. Ran into some ranchers on horseback looking for lost cattle. There was one downed tree, but a detour through a field was possible. We stopped in Castle Peak campground for snack and break which was a beautiful spot along the creek. Came out on Rochford Road and took that back to the highway to Hill City.
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    Noonish
    Packed up the truck and trailer and headed back to Minnesota.

    Lessons learned:
    1. DAKAL is a great ride! Plan a trip now if you are thinking about it. Overall it was a tougher trail than we had planned for.
    2. 650 CC class bikes are fine for this trip. Smaller sized is better in some places, but being able to jump on a highway to do 70 mph to get somewhere fast is really nice too. 1000CC+ would just be too much and you would probably end up skipping much of the difficult trail.
    3. Find a ROUGH trail and do a shake down ride with all your gear before attempting the DAKAL. The rocky trails really shake and vibrate the bike causing things to happen that you may not normally be used to. ( I lost a luggage rack bolt)
    4. Go slow and enjoy it.
    5. Use a good GPS. Paper maps won't cut it. I used a Garmin Oregon 300 which worked great. But MrFixIt had an iPhone and Garmin 60csx which worked well to compare notes with. He had also orded a large Blackhills waterproof map which was nice for group collaboration on routes instead of 3 of us gathering around a tiny screen.
    6. Plan for rain. Afternoon showers seem common.
    7. Watch for deer. They are EVERYWHERE and will jump straight at you.
    #94
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  15. JeepDawg

    JeepDawg Long timer

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    Nice writeup - looks like a fun trip.
    You had the perfect trio to do a 650 shootout too, any XR vs DR vs KLR comparison thoughts? looks like the XR has upside down front end which should make a big difference on that one.
    #95
  16. mrfixit54016

    mrfixit54016 Wisconsin Dual Sporter

    Joined:
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    873
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    Hudson, WI
    Nice Ride Report! Glad we brought the I.T. Department along!

    All three bikes had heavy aftermarket rear springs, and the DR and KLR had massaged the front forks with slight upgrades. Each bike did really well. The DR felt a little harsh on the front end, and the XR obviously needs a new rear shock seal, but all three performed nicely on this trip. I love my XR, but honestly, I would have ridden either of the other bikes as well. Yes, I do enjoy my CRF forks though.

    The first day, Hill City down to Edgemont, was a real test. This stretch took all day and was much more difficult than any of us had imagined. If you crave a more challenging dual-sport type ride, this section is ideal. Just don't expect much once you arrive in Edgemont, gas up and move along.

    The biggest take-away from this trip for me was the fact that this area is so vast and the amount of trails is mind blowing. Even if you don't follow the exact route, there are a million other trails and forest roads to ride. We modified our ride as weather and issues arose, but still left with a huge smile on our mugs.

    Oh, and one more thing, pack light, your shock will thank you....
    #96
  17. vbakken

    vbakken Outlier

    Joined:
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    14
    Fantastic report! DAKAL is officially on the bucket list for me and my old XL! FYI: since your from MN, have you checked out the Norseman 300?
    #97
  18. Stalspeed

    Stalspeed PullnG'sTillTheyPuke

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    For those who have done the whole trip, are there places for us campers with hammocks along the way (even in/near the plains and rolling pastures) OR should we look into buying tents?
    #98
  19. Sleddog

    Sleddog Ridin, again:)

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    No need for tents. You'll find places to hang your hammocks.
    #99
  20. Marc LaDue

    Marc LaDue Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2008
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
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    Just an update Jack,

    The NUTS completed their Trans South Dakota Trail this past June running from South Sioux City, Nebraska to Custer, South Dakota. We had a good time and opted to crash at inexpensive motels rather than camp. We're almost all a little overweight and way over fifty so nightly showers, air-conditioned rooms, and a solid roof over our heads were a plus and worth every penny. Thanks again for all the leg-work,

    LaDue