Wednesday, June 29, 2016

On Your Toes and Informed: A blog about trail etiquette in the Black Hills

On your Toes and Informed: A blog about trail etiquette in the Black Hills

By Guest Blogger: Laura Marie Heisinger

It’s that time of year again, the season we have all been waiting for, summer! With an abundant variety of activities to do in the Black Hills, everything from swimming, boating, fishing, four-wheeling, and last but not least hiking.

The Black Hills offers over 450 miles of trails for the public to use. Hiking isn’t the only activity  these trails are used for, other users such as mountain bikers, horseback riders, and trail runners use them too. Out of the trail users, the hiker and trail runner are the smallest on the path. What happens when these users encounter something much bigger than themselves, such as a horse or another person on a mountain bicycle? The situation can be overwhelming if you have never encountered these users on the trail, but the following tips on good trail etiquette and on who yields to whom on the trail will help if the occasion should arise.

Hiking the Trail

1.     Read the trail guidelines thoroughly. There may be specific rules for the trail you choose to hike on. If the trail sign says foot traffic only, that means hiking is the only activity allowed on the trail and nothing else.
2.     Please stay on the trail. Do not cut switchbacks or take shortcuts, stepping off of the trail can cause damage to the fragile ecosystem that lies on both sides of the trail.
3.     Stay to the right on wider hiking trails. When hiking in a large group, hike in single file and take no more than half of a wide trail.
4.     When overtaking someone who is hiking slower than you, call out “coming up on your left” so the person is  aware that you will be passing. The slower hiker should move over to the right, allowing you to pass..
5.     Stopping to soak in that beautiful scenery, rest, or to yield, move off  the path so it is free for other hikers to advance on. If you are in need of a break, step off on an already used resting area or a durable surface such as rock, dirt, or snow if it is during the winter season. Do not wander off trail to seek the perfect spot to take a rest.
6.     Hikers that are ascending uphill are working very hard and should be given the right of way over hikers coming downhill. On occasion uphill hikers will prefer to stop and let down hill hikers pass  so they can make a brief stop to catch their breath. The uphill hiker should make the call.
7.     You never know how many amazing people you can meet while out hiking. Take the time to greet other hikers as you encounter them on the trail. This makes sure they know you are there and it is a polite thing to do. A simple “Hello” or “Nice Day” works perfectly. If you are ever lost or in danger, and someone has to come look for you, other hikers are more likely to remember you if you exchanged words and made eye contact.


Yielding on hiking trails means about the same thing it means while driving a car– patiently wait your turn to proceed. Make sure everyone in your hiking party is aware on how to respond when encountering  mountain bikers, and horseback riders.

1.     Horses are big and unpredictable animals, give them the right of way on the trail. What to do when encountering a horse on the trail.
a.       Get off of the trail on the downhill side. Horses will tend to bolt uphill if they are spooked. Also, a hiker waiting on the uphill side can look more like a predator waiting to pounce.
b.      Quietly greet the rider and ask if you are ok where you are standing.
c.       Stand quietly while the horse and rider pass.
2.     Mountain Bikers are fast and they can stop and go easily letting other users on the trail have the right of way.

Photo Courtesy of
1.    Obey all rules and regulations at the trail head for pet usage, make sure the trail you are on is pet friendly.
2.    Have a leash with you at all times in case you happen to encounter another hiker and their dog. You never know how the two will react to each other, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
3.     Make sure you have doggy bags in your pack. When nature calls, Fido is going to answer it by pooping on the trail. It is your job as a responsible dog parent to clean it up and not leave it on the trail.
4.     Pack out  pet waste. You did your part by placing the doggy doo-doo in the bag, that also means you put it in your pack and take it out with you. Dog doo is not healthy for the environment, if left along the trail with a water source such as a creek, river, or lake nearby, disease causing bacteria can leak into the water source and cause health problems for plant life, wildlife, and even you.


1.     Markers
a.       Do not leave any markers when hiking off-trail. Cairns, ducks, or little piles of rocks are not needed. If people are hiking cross-country, their compass and map are all they need. Markers tend to concentrate traffic which creates more unmanaged trail scars.

Garbage collected in Spearfish Canyon

2.      Littering
a.    There is an age old rule that we should all follow when venturing out into the wilderness. “Leave no Trace”  Do not throw any sort of litter on the trail,  especially food peels such as orange and banana peels. If it does not grow there naturally then it should not be there in the first place. Pack out your garbage. It is as simple as having a spare bag in your pack to place peels, food wrappers, or other litter items. If you happen to see litter on the trail while you are out and have the spare room in your pack to store it, then we will greatly appreciate you for doing so. You are doing your part in keeping the trails clean for future users.

A heart with initials scratched on the rock at 11th Hour Gulch in Spearfish Canyon
3.     Defacing nature
a.   Please report vandalism if you happen to come upon it while you are out hiking. And you, yourself should not deface nature either. If you want to take something from nature then take the time to capture a special moment with your camera. Do not carve you or your spouse’s name into a rock wall or into the trunk of a living tree What’s the point of this anyways? A picture is worth a thousand words or more, but carving your name for the sake of saying you were “there", it’s not worth it.

The best thing we can do to keep our trails clean and our fellow man educated on proper trail etiquette, is to pass along these tips to our friends, and then they can pass it along to theirs, so it is spread out and people are aware. We can keep our trails beautiful and enjoyable to use for future generations to come.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

3 Things to do with Dad in Spearfish this Father's Day

by Victoria Kinkler
guest blogger, daughter

June is a prime time of year in Spearfish.  Almost summer, the weather is warm, the water is warm, and school is out.  Its not quite peak season yet--ideal for a family get away.  

Of course Father's Day is coming up too.  So road trip to Spearfish this weekend and make the most of it with these three must-do family friendly adventures.

3. Disc golf

Spearfish has not one, but two beautiful disc golf courses!

There is one on the Black Hills State University campus greens that spans nearly half of campus and, set in front of Crow Peak, is breathtaking at sunset.  

This course is ideal for younger children (because it is easier walking than the other) and for beginners (there are fewer obstacles on this course).

For more practiced disc golfers or families with grown children, the Spearfish Canyon Disc Golf Course can't be beat.  Newly expanded to 27 holes, this course is a hike and disc experience combined.  

Participants travel up and down the canyon walls, and must  even throw a disc off the cliff at the last hole. 

2. an afternoon at Spearfish Outdoor Archery Range

Archery is a part of Western history, and at the archery range on Christiansen Drive you can put your own marksmanship to the test.  

Located 3 miles outside of town near Game Fish and Parks land, the range hosts tournaments from time to time.

If you don't have equipment, Black Hills Archery has rentals and is located in nearby Rapid City.  It can also be purchased at Scheels or Cabela's.

1. Crow Peak

This one is a bit of a double entendre.  

Crow Peak Mountain is about an eight mile hike round trip.  June is the perfect time to hike it--not too hot, and not too crowded.  The view is spectacular at 5760 ft, and the cutback trail offers plenty of foliage, bugs, and more to investigate.

Crow Peak Brewery makes a nice stop after a long hike!  During summer they're known to brew adventurous beers like a kiwi IPA or filter their famed Crowcoanut through coconut chips.  

The brewery is kid friendly and often has live music outdoors during the summer months.

What family activities in Spearfish are you planning on checking out this weekend?

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Spearfish's own Downtown Friday Nights debuts tomorrow!

by Victoria Kinkler
guest blogger, summer lover

Photos courtesy of Spearfish Downtown Business Association
Tomorrow marks the start of this year's Downtown Friday Nights series.  If you haven't heard, DFN is a free event that features live music from regional bands, street closure and open container, and food and beer vendors.  Many of the downtown shops are open late for business too.

This year's band line up is as follows:
June 10 John Roberts y Pan Blanco

June 17 Outer Space Real Estate
inside tip: OSRE is local--and they put on a phenomenal show

June 24 The Max Temple Band

July 1 32 Below

July 8 Joey Leone's Chop Shop

July 22 Ryan Chrys and the Rough Cuts

July 29 The Kid and Nic Show

August 5 The Outer Vibe

August 12 Matt Begley and Bitter Whiskey

August 19 Blue Street

August 26 SGT Rock

Photos courtesy of Spearfish Downtown Business Association
DFN is great for the whole family.  You can stand for the show or bring chairs; chill in the sun or the shade.  There are balloon animals, lemonade stands, and ice cream for the children--tap beer and bbq for the big kids.  The festival runs from 5-10pm each week, weather permitting.

It's the perfect way to relax and watch the sunset to a soundtrack after a long week of working..or vacationing!  

So come check out Downtown Friday Nights this summer--it's #mygreatplace

Where's yours?

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Downtown Shopping Highlights

by Victoria Kinkler
guest blogger, shopaholic

Black Bird Espresso has delicious brew and a chill atmosphere.
Photo courtesy of Visit Spearfish

Downtown Spearfish is a veritable gold mine of boutiques, coffee shops, galleries, pubs, dress shops, antiques, organic produce, local dining, craft workshops....and more, but you get the picture.  

Its chalk full of historical buildings, new businesses, and homemade goodies.

The place to start is Jackson and Main.  From there, you can have brunch at The Stadium or grab an afternoon snack at Leone's Creamery .  

False Bottom should be your next stop for some pool, ping pong, foosball, darts, craft beer, and free popcorn.  

Progress to the Bent Willow, which offers charming selections of terrariums, succulents, decor, and more.

Next, the Junk Drawer and the Naked Olive.  The premier stop for local, gallery quality art, vintage finds (like old microscopes and beaver skulls), and locally infused olive oil.  

Cross the street to Good Earth Natural Foods, which packs a punch with The Loft upstairs (men's and women's clothing) and local and organic produce, beer, laundry detergent, and more.

Next door, the Spearfish Antique Mini Mall functions more like a spectacular junk shop; not everything is old, but everything is worth a second look.  From trunks and dishes to antlers to vinyls, the mall has it all.  

The Wild Rose is a valuable resource for art, candles, hooks, knobs, clocks, and the like.

One of my favorites, Kathleen's Dress Shop, is right next door.  They not only carry formals, but also jeans, shoes, and jewelry.  

inside tip: be sure to check out the basement, where all the sales are!

The Matthews Opera House typically has a concert, play, or art show going on...

Hudson and Main should be your next stop.  Upcycled furniture, chalk paint (and classes!), classy clothing, adjoined to the Mad Platter paint your own pottery studio.

Head up the hill and stop at the Green Bean Coffee House for a panini and a smoothie before you head back to the cabin.  

In the summer, be sure to check out Downtown Friday Nights, Spearfish's premier summer entertainment festival with live music, vendors, open container, and more!