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Buzzards Roost.

I know. It doesn’t sound like a place you would want to spend any amount of time. I mean who likes buzzards?

But believe me, this is one place worth visiting.

Located off South Dakota Highway 44 about four miles from Rapid City, Buzzards Roost features a dramatic panoramic view of the Black Hills National Forest from the top – an elevation of about 4,720 feet.

But first you have to get there and really, that’s the best part.

The trail system features 10 miles of biking and hiking trails (non-motorized please) ranging from easy to difficult. There are trails named everything from Sun Up and Sun Down to Buzzards Loop and Elvis, to name a few.

The trails were officially opened in June last year, although a lot of people hiked and biked it long before that.

Several organizations – with the Black Hills Mountain Bike Association spearheading the project – spent years completing the trail system. The state provided two grants- one for $25,000 and a second for $38,000. They did a great job.

As I wrote earlier, Buzzard’s Roost has everything from easy trails to kick-your-butt trails - which brings me to my most recent visit there.

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Last week, my 14-year-old daughter Peyton and I decided to mountain bike up Pretty Vulture, one of the trails at Buzzards Roost. Pretty Vulture starts off with steep rocky uphill that had us both pushing our bikes. Don’t get discouraged, though. Once past the first section, the trail begins to meander. Switchbacks cut across the hillside, making for a challenging and enormously fun ride.

It was during this “enormously fun” ride that I realized for the first time that I had to work really hard to keep up with my kid. Gone are the days when I encouraged, cajoled and carried her up mountain sides. She kicked my butt going up and kicked it again coming down.

I have decided that’s OK, though. I’ll take a good old-fashioned butt-kicking if it means a lovely evening in the woods with my daughter, listening to the bugs chirping and taking in a beautiful view of the Black Hills from the top.

Sure there are plenty of nice places to bike and hike in the Black Hill. But Buzzards Roost has a very special advantage. It’s so close to town.

You can get off work, grab your dog and your bike and be up there in 15 minutes. It’s hard to beat that. For that reason, I find myself utilizing those trails more and more.

If you want to take a peek at the trail map before you head up to Buzzards Roost, check out the Black Hills Mountain Bike Association website at http://www.bhmba.org/trails#buzzards-roost

And have fun.

Getting there

From Rapid City, drive four miles west on South Dakota Highway 44. The trailhead is located on the left side of the highway. The gravel parking lot and trailhead is located just after the Black Hills National Forest sign.

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Contact Lynn Taylor Rick at 394-8414 or lynn.taylorrick@rapidcityjournal.com.

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