Northern Hills - ATV

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The Northern Hills of the Black Hills National Forest is located in Spearfish, South Dakota. From here, you can access the more than 600 miles of ATV trails within the forest.

Written by

Abbie Mood


600.0 miles

The Black Hills National Forest Motorized Trail System has more than 3,600 miles of roads and 600 miles of trails for ATV, UTV and other off-road riders. This includes 347 miles of trails for vehicles 62 inches and less in width.

Destination Distance From Downtown

42.4 miles


2 of 5 diamonds

The trails are well-maintained, but not always marked on the ground, so you will want to have a map with you.

Time To Complete

4 hours

You can spend anywhere from a couple hours to several days exploring the trails in Black Hills National Forest.


Spring, Summer, and Fall

Spring and fall depend on the snow, so summer is the best time to ride.

Dog Friendly


Fees Permits


Trail system fees are $20/week per vehicle or $25 for an annual pass.

Land Website

Northern Hills ATV



Black Hills National Forest covers more than 1.2 million acres in western South Dakota and northeastern Wyoming, with activities for just about anyone who likes to spend time outdoors. Known as an "Island in the Plains," the hills rise up out of the plains, creating a variety of terrain for all kinds of activities, from mountain biking to rock climbing to hiking. Off-road enthusiasts will love exploring more than 600 miles of ATV trails throughout the forest that weave through canyons and gulches, across plains, and past amazing rock formations.

What Makes It Great

Black Hills National Forest is a unique area in South Dakota. The ponderosa pine forest, with it's interesting rock formations and plentiful outdoors activity opportunities, draws more than a million visitors every year. The Northern Hills area near Deadwood, South Dakota, is a great starting point for those looking to go on an ATV adventure. From here, jump on trails near Iron Creek Lake, Galena, Nemo, or west of Cheyenne Crossing, and you will be connected with the 600+ mile Black Hills National Forest Motorized Trail. Explore canyons and gulches, plains and lakes, and impressive rock formations as you cruise along.

There are 20 trailheads in total throughout the forest, and plenty of parking at each one. Trails can be tricky to follow, so make sure you take an updated Motor Vehicle Use Map with you or take advantage of the downloadable mobile app. If you want to make a weekend out of it, there are both backcountry and developed campsites.

Who is Going to Love It

The Northern Hills are a great place for anyone looking to go out for a couple hours, or a family looking to camp out and ride for the weekend. There is no other place like the forest in the United States, so if you are tired of riding the same old trails, it's worth a trip to western South Dakota.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

The best place to get to the Northern Hills area is from Deadwood, South Dakota.

You will need a permit, and there are regulations to be aware of, so check out the Forest Service website before you go. It can also be difficult to follow some of the trails, so take a map with you.

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Black Hills National Forest

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