RAPID CITY, SD — Join the Black Hills National Forest at 7 p.m. on Saturday, July 12 for a moonlit hike and to learn about the Custer Expedition at an Illingworth photography point overlooking Castle Creek Valley.
Participants in the scheduled Moon Walk event will walk a total of 3 miles roundtrip on a forest two track road that is a fairly easy hike with little elevation gain.
Featured speaker, Amy Ballard, Recreation Forester and Moon Walk Coordinator from the Black Hills National Forest, will present information about the 1874 Custer Expedition.
Participants will hike to the “String of Pearls” photo point chosen by Illingworth in 1874. “The String of Pearls refers to the image the wagon train made as it wound south through the Castle Creek Valley on July 26, 1874,” says Ballard. “I will be using images and information from the book titled, Exploring with Custer The 1874 Black Hills Expedition by Paul Horsted and Ernest Grafe ( 2002, 2005, Golden Valley Press) throughout my presentation.”
“As visitors arrive at the parking area they will immediately start walking to the overlook site instead of waiting for the entire group to arrive,” said Ballard. “The 1.5 mile route will be flagged and Forest Service employees will be at both the overlook site and parking area to greet them. It should take about 1 hour to hike from the parking area to the overlook site. Limited parking at the overlook site is available for visitors with mobility concerns.” Plan on arriving at the parking area at 7:00 p.m. or earlier if you want to walk slowly and enjoy the spruce and aspen forest.
To reach the Moon Walk site, travel west of Hill City, SD on the Deerfield Road or FSR 17 for 17 miles to the intersection of West Deerfield Road or FSR110. Turn left and travel 5.6 miles on West Deerfield Road to the intersection of Black Fox Camp Road or FSR233. Turn right and travel 1.2 miles to the intersection of FSR233.1A. Turn right and travel .3 miles to the intersection of 233.1B. Park at this intersection and immediately start walking on 233.1B for 1.5 miles to the photo point overlook site.
The drive from Rapid City should take approximately one hour and 15 minutes. Signs will be placed at major intersections to guide visitors to the site.
The Forest Service suggests that visitors bring flashlights, water, and bug repellant and dress for unexpected weather and hiking on uneven terrain. Long pants and sturdy footwear (hiking boots or athletic shoes) are recommended for your comfort and safety.
The program may be cancelled unexpectedly for unforeseen reasons such as lightning, high fire danger forecasts and other reasons beyond our control. The program will not be cancelled due to rain unless lightning is spotted. Please arrive early to aid us in parking vehicles as over 100 visitors per walk have been attending the programs.
For more information about the program and summer schedule go to www.fs.usda.gov/blackhills or call the Black Hills National Forest at 605-343-1567.