That can get complicated. Spinning south of Deerfield Lake, the central Black Hills explode into a confuzzling labyrinth of gravel roads, dirt roads, abandoned roads, wanna B roads, skid trails, hiking trails, and paths. Some are labeled, perhaps with numbers, letters or numbers and letters. The roads may be county, state, a division of the state, like the Game, Fish and Parks, or one of smorgasbord of federal agencies. Some aren't even roads. They just look like one, until they don't. I've been misplaced (not lost) on many of these roads.
|Classic Central Black Hills granite.
|That's a sun-lit Crazy Horse Monument back there.
So, here's the Black Hills BackBone route from Deerfield Lake to Custer, covering about 32 miles.
From Deerfield Lake, take Williams Draw Road (691) south for a splendid 8 mile up and occasional down romp through the pine trees. This feels every bit as remote as it is. Embrace it.
Williams Draw Road t-bones into Six Mile Draw Road (301) for a short half mile jog west to Ditch Creek Road (291). Ditch Creek Road opens it up a bit for another 9 miles or so, but it's still a lot of uphill. Today it was generally snow-packed, but not too icy. For the BackBone, this should be a nice rhythm section.
|Ridge line view, with Crazy Horse Monument.
Upper French Creek Road eventually t-bones into U.S. Highway 16. Turn East (left) on Highway 16 for about 2 miles into Custer, the first town since Spearfish, over 90 miles ago. A nice place to rest is Harbach City Park, a block south of Highway 16 on 6th Street and an official trailhead for the Mickelson Trail.