The forest service roads on this route are quiet, beautiful and in great condition. We didn’t see another soul from mile 4-12 where the terrain is slightly more technical, rutted and double track. After that, there are some fast and wide gravel roads with low car traffic.
The first part of the decent is on ridiculously fast smooth gravel with fantastic views in the Black Hills National Forest.
There were colorful wild flowers blooming and butterflies everywhere along the route in early July.
The original route we'd planned was the 45-mile route from the Gold Rush Gravel Grinder, but unfortunately some of that route was on clearly marked private property with no trespassing signs and a forest road that was closed. We had to readjust on the fly and luckily there was another way through. (BTW- make sure you follow the cleaned-up GPX route file and not our ride on Strava which includes our fumbling around to find our way.)
The first part of the forest service road is both rugged and VERY steep at 18%! It is also a little tricky to find the turn off. It almost looks like your turning into a private drive but there are some small hunting signs marking the way. (Make sure you download the route on your bike computer for easy way-finding.)
The last 12 miles or so are paved and more heavily trafficked than the rest of the route, but there is a big shoulder throughout the Spearfish Canyon and it is quite beautiful with sights along the way.
Do this ride if you are in Spearfish, SD and you want a challenging tour of the area including quiet forest roads, a peek of the Black Hills and a speedy trip down the stunning Spearfish Canyon. If you are there in the summer months expect to see lots of wild flowers and butterflies.
We started from the Spearfish City Campground where we were staying, but there is also easy free parking across from the Spearfish Fish Hatchery and City Park.
There are public bathrooms at the beginning in the campground, at mile 12 where FSR 626.1 dead ends into Tinton Road, at mile 28 in the Rod and Gun Campground, as well as at mile 31 where you will find the Spearfish Canyon Lodge/The Latchstring Restaurant.
There are several sites and short hikes to see off Spearfish Canyon Road (14A) like The Devils Bathtub and Bridal Veil Falls.
We did this in July and temperatures were HOT! We would encourage a very early start to try to beat the heat, and as always, make sure you bring enough water to keep you hydrated.
We enjoyed a few delicious cool beers at The Spearfish Brewery afterwards and chatted with one of the bartenders who was a fellow gravel cyclist. We recommend!
Laura Karpinski and Rose Barcklow are the creators of Gravel Bike Adventures. Click on the About page to learn more about them.