During our travels across America, Leah and I have cycled on several amazing rail trails–each one offering a variety of gorgeous scenery, interesting terrain, historical context, and wildlife features. The Black Hills of South Dakota boasts the George S. Mickelson Trail, which checks all the right boxes.
The trail follows 109 miles of Burlington Northern’s historic rail line from Deadwood to Edgemont–
crossing 100 converted railroad bridges…
and pedaling through 4 tunnels.
The result is breathtakingly beautiful.
Named after South Dakota’s governor following his untimely death in 1993, George S. Mickelson’s ardent support was instrumental in creating a non-motorized mixed-use trail,
from his dedication of the first 6 miles in 1991 to the trail’s completion in 1998.
Rather than limiting our linear miles, we rode the trail from Dumont (its highest elevation point at 6240 ft) to Hill City,
and hired a taxi service to transport our bikes back to Dumont.
The trail consisted of crushed limestone and gravel which was perfect for our road bikes clad with all-terrain tires.
While riding the trail was effortless (mostly a slow downhill roll), there were many reasons to stop:
whether to soak up the landscape;
or reflect on South Dakota’s cultural heritage–such as farmers using cyanide lids left over from Deadwood’s Gold Rush days to shingle and side their houses.
All of which made for a glorious outing,
which only adds to the allure of Black Hills lore.