PIERRE, S.D. – The George S. Mickelson Trail in the Black Hills has gained national attention by being recently inducted into the Rails-to-Trails Hall of Fame.
The Mickelson Trail is one of just 25 trails selected for the honor from a field of more than 1,600 trails nationwide.
The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a non-profit organization promoting former rail lines that have been turned into nature trails, selects Hall of Fame inductees on a variety of merits, including scenic value, high use, amenities, historical significance, management excellence, good maintenance, and community connections.
“In selecting the trails, we wanted to highlight some of the granddaddies of the movement; trails that helped inspire the development of thousands of other pathways in communities around the country,” says Karl Wirsing, communications manager for the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. “Among the first to get built, and certainly among the most distinct and rich with natural beauty, the Mickelson Trail is the product of great determination on the part of its supporters. Few trails can rival its backdrop in the Black Hills, or the charm of the towns it passes.”
Induction of the Mickelson Trail will bring special perks for South Dakota.
"The Mickelson Trail has opened up a whole new way to enjoy the Black Hills," says Doug Hofer, Director, South Dakota Division of Parks and Recreation. "By being inducted into the Hall of Fame, the trail will have special signage and be featured nationally. This award will help promote the Mickelson Trail for generations to come."
The special signage will be erected along the trail this month, marking it as a Rails-to-Trails Hall of Fame inductee. The Mickelson Trail is featured as the “trail of the month” on the Conservancy website and in the organization’s national magazine, Rails to Trails.
“This special designation is a great honor for South Dakota,” says Melissa Bump, Director, South Dakota Office of Tourism. “The award shows how important the trail is, not only to visitors but to the citizens of our state and to those who use the trail for exercise, transportation and fun.”
The South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks will hold an official Hall of Fame announcement ceremony on Thursday, May 13, at 10:30 a.m. (MDT). The public and press are encouraged to attend the ceremony, which will be held along the trail across from the Homestake Mansion in Lead. The announcement coincides with the Lead/Deadwood fifth-grade triathlon, held every year on the Mickelson Trail.
“We wanted these kids and their families to be a part of the Hall of Fame announcement,” said Hofer. “The school, teachers and families make a commitment to getting their kids outside to enjoy physical activity in nature. This is their trail now, and it will be their trail in the future.”
The public will not need a trail pass to use the Mickelson Trail on May 21-23, 2010. Communities along the trail will be holding events and offering discounts to visitors during the Friday-through-Sunday period. Users also will be able to register for door prizes at the trailheads during the weekend.
The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., whose mission it is to create a nationwide network of trails from former rail lines and connecting corridors to build healthier places for healthier people.