Bike 108.8 miles in the beautiful Black Hills, through forests of pine and aspen, open prairie, massive train tunnels and over bridges! The trail is a converted railroad bed from the late 1800's that ran until 1983.

Biking the George S. Mickelson Trail is a very popular activity for many people in the Black Hills, locals, visitors, and tourists all enjoy the Mickelson Trail.  Not only can you bike, but you can run, walk, or even ride horses, and you most definitely do not have to do the entire length of the trail. There are numerous trailheads (15) along the trail to start or stop your ride, and make it however long you want. For a map of the trail, to see where different trailheads are click Trail Map

Popular sections of the Trail to ride are:

Dumont to Deadwood (19 miles downhill)

Rochford to Hill City (22 miles mixture of uphill and downhill)

Custer to Hill City (15 miles little uphill then all down hill)

Custer to Pringle (12.5 miles mostly all downhill)

Stacey Falls are a neat site and a good spot to take a break, just a few miles south of Rochford.

 

If you are thinking of doing the entire trail, I would suggest riding from Deadwood to Edgemont as you will start and a higher elevation (4,531 ft) and end at at a lower elevation (3,458 ft), but there will be several uphill rides and some challenging ones because they can be long. The trail tops out at almost 6,200 feet. Also if you are going to ride the entire length of the trail it might be a good idea to do some training for it. You could ride the whole trail in 2 days, or stretch it to 3 days as well. (I rode the trail in 3 days, but started after work on a Friday and rode til it got dark, then camped on Forest service property next to the trail about 15 miles from Deadwood. Saturday rode to Custer, then finished the trail on Sunday by early afternoon.)

The trail is packed gravel, especially in the higher traffic areas, but there can be loose gravel so do be aware. Even though it is gravel a road bike can and will work (I rode the whole trail on a 1980's 10 speed road bike), a hybrid or a mountain bike will do just fine as well. At most of the trailheads there is a vault toilet or a port-o-potty. There are hundreds of old railroad bridges and 4 tunnels that cut through some of the hill sides/rockfaces (all four tunnels are between mile markers 85-72).

To ride the Mickelson Trail, there is a fee, $4 a day or an annual fee of $15. At trailheads there is a self-serve pay station.

Please leave it better than you found it and clean up your own trash. Use proper traffic etiquette when on the trail, and obey all posted signs and respect land owners. 

PACK LIST

  • Bike
  • Running shoes
  • Water, bring extra! (there are wells and pumps at most trailheads, but sometimes they do run dry... happened to me, thankfully I had an extra bottle...)
  • Snacks
  • Spare Tube or tube repair kit
  • Sunscreen/sun protection
  • Layers, the weather can change quickly in the Black Hills and afternoon thunderstorms are common during the summer.

To read more about this great expedition and make sure you're properly prepared, check out the adventure on The Outbound: https://www.theoutbound.com/south-dakota/cycling/bike-the-george-s-mickelson-trail

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