The George S. Mickelson Trail was completed in September of 1998. Its gentle slopes and easy access allow people of all ages and abilities to enjoy the beauty of the Black Hills. There are more than 100 converted railroad bridges and four hard rock tunnels along the 109 mile route.
Much of the trail passes through National Forest land, but there are stretches that pass through private property, where trail use is restricted to the trail only. It is vital to the future of the trail that users respect the land and others on the trail.
The Mickelson Trail is Open year-round, from dawn to dusk
Length of Trail: 109 miles • Deadwood to Edgemont
15 trailheads • 100+ bridges • 35 interpretive signs
Trail surface: Packed gravel
Rated: Easy to moderate
Trail Information The Mickelson Trail was originally the Burlington Northern line that carried trains from Edgemont to the northern Black Hills and the gold mines of the Deadwood area. The trail transverses the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota. The original track was built in in 9 months and 22 days, and was abandoned in 1983. A group of outdoor enthusiasts recognized the trail's potential, and with support of Governor George Mickelson, it became the state's first rails to trails project.
Purchase a Trail Pass
• Chamber of Commerce
• Pine Rest Cabins
• Lead Area Chamber of Commerce
• Black Hills Trails Office
History The first 6 miles of trail were dedicated in 1991. After years of hard work, and collaboration between the US Forest Service, South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department, the National Guard, the South Dakota Department of Transportation, the South Dakota Department of Corrections, and the local Friends of the Mickelson Trail, the trail was completed in 1998.
The surface is primarily crushed limestone and gravel. There are currently 15 trailheads which all offer parking, self-sale trail pass stations ($4 daily or $15 annual), vault toilets, and tables. The grades of the trail do not exceed 4 percent for the most part, but parts of the trail are considered strenuous. Traveling from Deadwood (4550 feet) in the southern direction toward Edgemont (3400 feet), the trail loses approximately 1150 feet in overall elevation.
Guest Article by Jeanine Barone
As I bicycle into Rochford, South Dakota, with Carrie Bowers, owner of Black Hills Adventure Tours, and about a dozen other locals, it seems as if a time warp has opened into the Wild West, albeit during a decidedly peaceful moment. On this spring weekday afternoon, the tiny former mining town’s hub of activity—what little there is—centers on the wooden porch of the Moonshine Gulch Saloon, a weatherworn building seemingly plucked right out of a U.S. history book. A pair of middle-aged men lounge on chairs, rolling cigarettes and chain smoking. Nearby, three gents in cowboy hats chat with each other, standing smack in the middle of the main road with no concern whatsoever for traffic—because there’s no sign of any. The scene was likely very different during the frenetic activity of the Gold Rush in the late 1800s. Pedaling along this portion of the 109-some-mile George S. Mickelson Trail, one of the nation’s most beloved greenways, I’m constantly reminded of this bygone era of U.S. history.
Mickelson Trail Affiliates is not associated with SDPB or any department of the Federal or State government