PIERRE, S.D. – One of South Dakota’s Great Places is a premier trail within the state park system that stretches across 109-miles in the Black Hills. It’s the George S. Mickelson Trail.
The Mickelson Trail is one of South Dakota’s gems. The trail follows an abandoned railroad bed, and climbs gently by jagged cliffs and through pine forests. The trail has a crushed limestone surface and wide path; trestle bridges and railroad tunnels add to the trail’s charm.
It tops out at 6,100 feet in elevation but rarely exceeds a 4-percent grade, making it a trail suitable for leisure riders. The longest area of incline is the 19 miles between Dumont and Deadwood.
There are 15 trailheads between the two ends of the trail, which runs from Deadwood to Edgemont. Horseback riders, hikers, bicyclists, and birders all share this trail, which is open year-round, from dawn to dusk. Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are both popular during the winter months.
In the spring of 2010, the George S. Mickelson Trail gained national attention by being inducted into the Rails-to-Trails Hall of Fame. It was just one of 25 trails selected for the national honor from a field of more than 1,600 trails.
At the trailheads, visitors will find amenities, including parking, toilets, drinking water, and picnic tables. Some of the trailheads also offer shelters. Visitors will also find benches, vault toilets, shelters and drinking water placed sporadically along the trail.
The fee for the Mickelson Trail is $3.00 daily or $15.00 for an annual pass. Passes are available at self-service stations along the trail and online at www.campsd.com/parkpasses.aspx.
South Dakota’s Great Places weekly press release series is a project of the South Dakota Department of Tourism, designed to highlight places in South Dakota that are unique to travelers and residents alike. Click on the special “South Dakota’s Great Places” link at www.MediaSD.com to access the complete list of articles.
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,