A welcome brief respite after the first canyon -  Deadwood (4,240 ft)

You might have only come 4 miles since Last Chance, but many rider+horse teams look a little shell shocked emerging from the canyon. The trail descends 1,800 feet to Swinging Bridge, before climbing 1,640 feet up to Devil’s Thumb.  Many riders opt to give their mounts a break and hand-walk down the canyon, and the really intrepid will tail them back out the more than 30 switchbacks up the narrow trail. Most will take time in the creek below the bridge to cool off before starting the ascent. Just before you crest the edge of the canyon, you may glimpse the “Thumb” - a nearly 50 ft tall volcanic outcropping off to your left. Cool your horse again at Devil’s Thumb, but you need to move on another mile down the trail to Deadwood for a 64 pulse gate-and-go vet check.  This unlikely trail was once a toll route between Michigan Bluff and Last Chance. The toll was collected by the Fergusons who owned the hotel and bar in Deadwood, and the proceeds used to keep the trail in good condition. Since 1992 this section has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


On June 19th to 24th 2016, the American Trail Running Association partnered with the Google Maps team to capture 360 degree panoramic “street-view” imagery of the entire Western States Trail using the Street View Trekker backpack:

Devil's Thumb

Deadwood is sponsored by
Renegade Hoof Boots