The 111-mile Centennial Trail winds through the Black Hills  from Wind Cave  in the south to Bear Butte in the north. Locals love hiking and biking the 11-mile stretch between Pactola Reservoir and Sheridan Lake in the Central Hills . It’s a good distance for a day hike; the trail is just moderately difficult.
The scenery is spectacular, with steep canyon walls, thick ponderosa pine forests filled with wildlife, and scenic vistas of the lakes on both ends of the trail. The trail is marked with brown signs with the trail #89 on them.
To get to the Dakota Point Trailhead, take U.S. 385 north about seven miles to Sheridan Lake Road. Take Sheridan Lake Road to Dakota Point Road. Take a right on Dakota Point Road to where it dead ends at the trailhead. The trail winds around the lake before heading north to the Rapid Creek Trailhead at Pactola Reservoir.
Another interesting hike can be accessed from the same trailhead off of Dakota Point. Instead of heading north, head south on the Centennial trail until it joins up with the Flume Trail. The Flume Trail has been designated a National Recreation Trail because of its historical significance. The entire trail runs from Sheridan Lake to the town of Rockerville, a distance of about 11 miles.
The trail is named after a wooden flume that was built in the late 1800s to carry water from Spring Creek to the Rockerville placer mining camp. The trail is relatively easy, and along the trail you’ll see many traces of the old flume. A shorter loop trail is available near where the Centennial Trail joins the Flume Trail. It is well marked and makes for an energizing half-day hike.
The Mickelson Trail runs right through Hill City and is another nice option for an easy walk. Running parallel to Spring Creek in this area, the trail has gentle slopes and a well-groomed surface so that hikers of any age or ability can follow the trail.
Hill City  is a central hub for the George S. Mickelson Trail (www.sdgfp.info ), a 109-mile biking/hiking trail that runs from Edgemont in the south to Deadwood  in the north. This is a Rails-to-Trails project geared toward mountain biking and, as such, is a crushed gravel path. There is a $2 daily or $10 annual permit fee to use the trail. There are two shops in town that rent bicycles and provide shuttle service to any of the 14 trailheads.
Mickelson Trail Adventures (412 E. Main St., 605/574-4094 or 605/391-4491, www.mickelsontrailadventures.net ) offers bike rentals for $29 per day, $19.50 per half-day, and $8.75 per hour. Shuttle rates range from $33 to Deadwood to $45 to Edgemont.
Rabbit Bike (175 Walnut St., 605/574-4302, www.rabbitbike.com ) is the only full-service bike shop on the trail. In addition to bike rentals ($30 per day, including tire repair kit and helmets), Rabbit Bike offers package deals that include lodging.
Fishing, swimming, and boat rentals are available at two beautiful lakes near Hill City. Sheridan Lake is a 380-acre lake located 10 miles north of Hill City off of U.S. 385. Kayaks, canoes, fishing boats, pedal boats, and pontoons can be rented from Sheridan Lake Marina (16451 Sheridan Lake Rd., 605/574-2169, www.sheridanlakemarina.com , open year-round). Pontoons rent for $70 for two hours or $190 all day; fishing boats are $25 for two hours or $65 all day. Kayaks, canoes, and pedal boats are available for $8 the first hour and $5 for each additional hour. Life jackets are provided with all rentals.
Pactola Reservoir, at 650 acres, is the largest body of water in the Central Hills . Located 14 miles from Hill City  and just north of Sheridan Lake off of U.S. 385, it is a scenic location for boating or fishing. The marina there, Pactola Pines (U.S. 385, 605/343-4283 or 605/341-1286 off-season, www.pactolapines.com ), has a variety of boats for rent including several different sizes of pontoons, fishing boats, and canoes. Pontoons, which accommodate eight people, start at $85 for two hours or $160 all day. Fishing boats rent for $40 for two hours, or $85 per day and hold three or four people. Canoes are $20 for an hour, $35 for two hours.
Both Sheridan Lake and Pactola Reservoir are part of the Black Hills National Forest and have day use fees of $6. Both also have camping facilities that include drinking water and toilets, but no electricity, hook-ups, or showers are available. Campsites are $21 per night.