Mt. Rushmore National Memorial / Black Hills / Harney Peak / Wind Caves

Adjacent to the legendary South Dakota badlands, lies a multi-faceted wilderness area known as the Black Hills. The Black Hills are home to Mt. Rushmore, Wind Cave National Park, Harney Peak (at 7244' the highest mountain in South Dakota and the tallest peak east of the Rockies), the Black Elk Wilderness, Custer State Park and the Centennial Trail, all of which we'll traverse at least in part.

Although best known for herds of roaming bison, prairie dogs and ubiquitous Ponderosa Pines, the Black Hills also feature elk, mule deer, coyote, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, eagles, hawks, osprey, fox and peregrine falcons.

Why not start your summer early by visiting beautiful South Dakota, get a jump on your fitness level and lose some weight (or more accurately, improve body composition)?


The Black hills Fitpacking Trip will be from May 25 - June 2, 2013. Here is the proposed itinerary.

Our trek begins in Wind Cave National Park with a short caving expedition (no experience necessary). From there, we'll start hiking on the Centennial Trail, hiking through Wind Cave National Park and into Custer State Park. We'll enter the French Creek Natural Area, and eventually visit the Black Elk Wilderness, where we'll summit Harney Peak, the highest point in South Dakota. In fact, there is no higher point East of Harney Peak all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. Our hike will end by walking into the inspirational Mt. Rushmmore National Memorial.


The trails through the Black Hills often have good footing with moderate elevation changes of less than 1000' per day (except summitting Harney Peak). Distances will be kept below 10 miles per day. We have deemed this a 3-star difficulty trip because water can be scarce in June and you may have to carry more, but it should be less strenuous than that most of the time.


Weather is always an important concern when hiking. Expect daytime hiking temperatures into the 60s and 70s and nighttime temperatures in the 40s. However on the 2011 trip, temperatures hit 100 on one day and brought a hailstorm on the next. So be prepared for great fluctuations. Here is the historical June weather Bring lots of sun protection and water containers that add up to 8 liters of capacity.

Trip Leaders

Steve Silberberg, lives in Hull, MA and has many years of backpacking experience over a variety of terrains and guides most Fitpacking trips. He is a SOLO certified Wilderness First Responder, Leave No Trace Trainer, and Certified Food Handler.

Kia Mosenthal lives in Jackson, WY and is a World Class skier and All-American in Slalom. She has a Master of Public Health from Brown University where she was part of the Brown Outdoor Leadership Training program. She worked with the Rhode Island Department of Public Health on childhood obesity prevention. This will be her first trip as a guide with Fitpacking.

Equipment List

Here is a list of equipment we suggest you bring. The list is extensive and can seem daunting, but please don't let this deter you from the trip. You can rent top notch quality gear for reasonable prices from Traverse Outfitters, Lower Gear or Outdoors Geek. It may also be possible for us to provide some gear for you at a nominal fee if you let us know far ahead of the trip. Unfortunately, we're not in the gear business so the selection of our available inventory is unpredictable. Please feel free to discuss any gear with us before the trip.


We don't believe in austere eating regimens. Backpacking is a rigorous, rewarding activity. You must feed your body in order for it perform. Your body will dictate that you eat often, so it's important to have fuel to feed it. Please check out the sample menus. This list is not comprehensive and may be altered or augmented. If you want to bring personal food, say a 5 pound chocolate cake, go for it. You'll not only hate carrying it over 40 miles through South Dakota and up Harney Peak, your body will reject the empty calories and prefer nutritious food.


$1200 per person double occupancy. Here, double occupancy means that you will share a room with another participant during the 2 hotel nights. You will also be responsible for transportation to and from Rapid City (RAP), personal equipment and any restaurant meals eaten off the trail.

Covered expenses include 2 hotel nights, campground fees, 7 days of trail meals, ground transportation to/from the parks, National Park permits, insurance, satellite phone, and awesome guides.