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Description of '76 Trail - Canyon Vistas

Spring photoFrom start to end, the newly completed '76 Trail opens panoramic vistas never before seen by visitors to the Canyon.

Upon departure from the trailhead at Savoy, the trail leads through a mammoth grove of emerald ferns tucked within the cooling canopy of a deciduous forest of aspen, birch, and oak trees. Not for 'the average bear,' the three-quarter mile trail quickly ascends 1,000 feet to Buzzard's Roost on the rim. From atop the canyon wall where once only eagles dared, a panoramic view in stunning proportion unfolds the enchanting landscape of Spearfish Canyon.

The historic trail is the first formal public access to the Canyon rim. Numerous benches line the natural treaded trail providing a welcome rest for the winded.

The '76 Trail is part of an historic 16-mile trail that passed through the Canyon at Savoy between the gold fields of Tinton and Lead/Deadwood during the gold rush era of 1876. It is said that Savoy got its name from an immigrant miner who upon seeing the view, said it reminded him of his home back in the mineral-rich Savoy region in the southern Alps of Italy.

Old-time-miner Potato Creek Johnny with his ever-faithful burro used the trail extensively from his cabin in the woods near Tinton to the Latchstring at Savoy to exchange his 'diggins for vitals.' He is noted for finding the largest gold nuggets in the Black Hills.

Funding of the $34,000 trail was made possible through the generosity of the Friends of Spearfish Canyon membership donations ($2,500), operating funds from the Spearfish Canyon Foundation ($3,000), Forest Service ($8,000), and grants from the South Dakota Community Foundation ($7,000) and the South Dakota Game, Fish and Park Department ($12,800). The trail accesses by easement through property owned by Homestake Mining Company, Spearfish Canyon Foundation, and the U.S. Forest Service.

Trail contractor Wolfgang Schmidt endured frequent delays due to unusual weather conditions that produced heavy spring and summer rain showers, and a fall drought that caused forest fire restrictions. Two small canyon fires caused by lightning occurred near Bridal Veil Falls and Elmore. Fire restrictions postponed the '76 Trail dedication until the spring. The trail is the third of five trails planned for the Savoy area.