The George S. Mickelson Trail

April 18, 2013

Once upon a time, it sent daily train traffic—strings of cars from engine to caboose—sailing smoothly down the Burlington Northern line from Deadwood to Edgemont. Today, cyclists, hikers, and cross-country skiers in the Black Hills, both locals and tourists, can witness the spectacular scenery those late conductors must have relished as they flew up and down the ties, careening through the mountain terrain of thick forest pine.

This abandoned railroad bed of crushed gravel began accepting travelers of a more recreational type in the early 1990s. The George S. Mickelson Trail, as it’s now called, is a “rail to trail” project that cuts 109 miles of South Dakota trail biking to chase through the Black Hills countryside. It presents Black Hills residents with seasonal opportunities to take advantage of this beautiful environment that a mere 250,000 are lucky enough to call home. During the tourist season, the Mickelson Trail offers an excellent opportunity for outdoor adventure, exploration, and activity to a mass amount of incoming tourists—painting a vivid scene of what makes this area truly unique.

Black Hills Guided Bicycle Tours

Cycling beginners and newcomers in the area aren’t expected to go it alone. Western South Dakota boasts an all-inclusive Black Hills bicycle tour company that specializes in guiding camping tours on the Mickelson Trail with multiple different lengths, as well as dates offered throughout the summer months. All ages and abilities are welcome. For more information, CLICK HERE.

Short, Self-Guided Mickelson Rides

There are a number of popular South Dakota trail biking stop points along the Mickelson. From start to finish, the trail traverses a handful of quaint Black Hills towns; from Deadwood, Rochford, and Hill City in the northern half, to Custer, Pringle, Minnekahta, and Edgemont in the south. These stopping points break the 109-mile trail into 6 segments that are perfect for leisurely rides that cater to all ages and abilities. In addition, each stop has its own “special something” worth experiencing.

In Deadwood, there’s a wealth of history to absorb from this old gold rush town.  Heading south to Rochford, you’ll find a tiny mountainside dwelling that boasts live music in front of the Moonshine Gulch on Main Street on warm summer weekends. Keep on going to Hill City, where there are art galleries to explore and an authentic Bavarian restaurant to fuel your journey. The opportunities for interesting pit stops continue as the trail stretches southward…

The Big Mick

For the ambitious cyclist in search of a comprehensive Black Hills bicycle tour, the Mickelson Trail Century Ride—also called “The Big Mick”—is an annual one-day bike race that covers the entire 109-mile stretch of the George S. Mickelson trail. This big South Dakota trail biking event takes place early on in the summer season, falling on June 15th for 2013. Initiated in the year 2000, this year will mark “The Big Mick’s” 13th anniversary. If you’re ready to see it all in one day, Register Here.

Rail to trail” conservancy recognizes the potential in old abandoned railroad ties and turns them into hotspots for outdoor recreational activity. Thanks to the efforts of South Dakota’s Governor Mickelson, the old Burlington Northern line became a “rail to trail” project that would develop into a major Black Hills landmark in western South Dakota.

About the Palmer Gulch Resort

The Black Hills provide ample opportunities for western South Dakota actions sports, sightseeing excursions, and outdoor adventures. All year long, the Palmer Gulch Resort is here to serve as your home away from home. To learn more about Palmer Gulch Resort, or to make a reservation, visit our website at or call 1-800-562-8503. Information packets are available for group gatherings, as well as GPS directions and maps of the area.

Last Modified: 06/25/2014 12:22:02 pm MDT