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Adventure Through The Wild West Along The Mickelson Trail

Raised in Rapid City and lucky to call it home, this outdoor enthusiast loves to explore the Black Hills with her husband and two dogs. When she’s not at work you’ll find her out hiking, at a local ice cream shop, or perhaps home taking a nap.

June 18, 2021

Traveling for 109 miles, the George S. Mickelson Trail weaves through the Black Hills National Forest. Crossing creeks, hugging granite walls, and cutting through mountains – taking its visitors through a variety of breathtaking terrains and showing off some of the best of the Black Hills.

Sunset views of bikers on the George S. Mickelson Trail
Mickelson Trail @ryanscottsheldon

Originally, this route was created for the Burlington Northern line railroad which serviced the mines in the Black Hills during the Black Hills Gold Rush. It was abandoned in 1983, when a group of outdoor enthusiasts saw the route’s potential to be converted into a public trail. With the support of Governor George Mickelson, the trails namesake, it became the state’s first rails to trails project and was completed in September of 1998. 

The majority of the trail doesn’t exceed a four percent grade, and with the easy access points of 15 trailheads, this trail is a hit for all experience levels and ages. Along with stunning scenery, bikers and hikers will cross more than 100 converted railroad bridges and pass through four rock tunnels. While the trail is not rated difficult, there are portions that are more strenuous than others. Dumont is the highest point of the trail, and 19 miles from Deadwood to Dumont is the longest portion of incline. You can take advantage of the incline by traveling the opposite direction on the trail, or there are other options to conveniently experience a portion of the trail that fits you best. 

Biker standing in one of four tunnels on the Mickelson Trail in the Black Hills
Mickelson Trail @Josh Lien

Local tour company, Black Hills Adventure Tours, helps visitors experience the beauty of this trail with ease. With their private Mickelson Trail Bike Ride Tour you select the distance and destination, making it completely customizable to your comfort level. They provide all the equipment, with a choice of either a mountain bike or comfort bike and get you to and from the trail so all you have to do pedal and enjoy the view. Lunch, bottle waters and snacks are also provided as part of this tour. It’s the perfect tour for any bike enthusiast or traveler who doesn’t want to go through the hassle of packing or renting equipment and coordinating their trek on the trail. With Black Hills Adventure Tours, they take care of everything.

For those with physical limitations that want to experience the Mickelson Trail they created Trolley on the Trail event. Held on certain dates throughout the summer, individuals who have a handicap parking permit can reserve a spot on the trolley along with a plus one. For information about this event reach out to the Mickelson Trail office.

Views from the George S. Mickelson Trail in the Black Hills
Mickelson Trail @Josh Lien

The wild west is on full display when you journey along the George S. Mickelson Trail, open year-round, from dawn to dusk. Exciting views and wildlife can be found on every portion of the trail making it an unforgettable experience. Already accustomed to magic of the Mickelson Trail? Check out some of the other offerings from Black Hills Adventure Tours. They offer a variety of sightseeing tours and adventure tours, helping you unlock new discoveries in our little slice of paradise.