Mickelson Trail is 109 Miles of Black Hills Beauty! | Black Hills & Badlands - South Dakota
  • Mickelson Trail is 109 Miles of Black Hills Beauty!
    Mickelson Trail is 109 Miles of Black Hills Beauty!

With summer winding down and the weather cooling off, it’s time to get outside for some longer adventures. Spanning 109 miles from Deadwood to Edgemont, the Mickelson Trail makes for the perfect long weekend of camping, hiking, or biking. Miles of smooth gravel await those interested. With a surface of primarily crushed limestone and gravel, the trail currently has 15 trailheads which all offer parking, self-sale trail pass stations, vault toilets and tables. Most of the grades are gradual and gentle, with none exceeding four percent. Portions of the trail are considered strenuous. Dogs are allowed on the trail as long as they are leashed at all times. After General Custer discovered gold, an abundance of people headed to the Black Hills in an effort to strike it rich. Along with these people came hundreds of miles of railway to help transport them and their belongings. All through the 1920s the rails saw steady traffic, but in 1932 all passenger traffic was eliminated through the Keystone area, and then eventually in 1949, all passenger traffic was shut down in the Black Hills. Over the next 30 – 40 years, freight traffic would decline and eventually cease through these areas of the Black Hills, having never fully recovered from the Great Depression. Be sure to take in at least one sunset while out on the trail. In 1986 all of the railway was removed, leaving a flat trail stretching north to south through the Black Hills. Governor George S. Mickelson helped push the idea to turn it into a trail, harnessing the state's beauty for visitors. In 1991 the first 6 miles were officially converted, and eventually in 1998 the entire 109-mile trail was established and named after Mickelson. Old railroad bridge along the trail. While camping on the trail is not permitted, a majority of the trail does pass through National Forest Land, which allows dispersed camping in specific areas. However, note that there are still sections that pass through private land. The trail is open year-round from dawn until dusk, and is perfect for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and snowshoeing. There is plenty of wildlife in the area, so be sure to stay on the trail and be aware of your surroundings at all times. Kirk trailhead, 1/2 mile outside of Lead. There are two main strategies for getting the trail finished on bike. With the longest stretch on inline being the 19 miles immediately outside of Deadwood, some prefer to start there and get it out of the way. Others prefer saving that for last and having a 19-mile downhill coast into town. The Trail Trek is a 3-day long bike event from Edgemont to Deadwood. This weekend the Mickelson Trail Trek will take place on the trail and see riders starting on the Custer to Edgemont section Friday morning and finishing in Deadwood Sunday around lunchtime. The Trail Trek is a yearly event that requires registration and is always sold out. It’s fun to either be participating or watching, and is definitely something I’d recommend anyone to look into for coming years. For more information visit www.mickelsontrail.com.

About the Author

Nik is an Aberdeen native and views the Black Hills as a much needed reprieve from the never ending plains of Eastern South Dakota. He graduated from Northern State University with a degree in Fine Arts and Multimedia Design, both of which he enjoys using as the Marketing Project Specialist at Black Hills & Badlands Tourism Association. He and his wife own a martial arts gym in Rapid City and most of his time outside of work goes into training and growing that program. When not working he loves cooking and trying new beers from all around the world. He has dreams of traveling to every country in the world at least once and living abroad for an entire year at some point in his life.

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