The George S. Mickelson Trail is a 109-mile Rails-To-Trails recreation trail that runs through the Black Hills from the town of Edgemont north to the town of Deadwood.
With our wives out of town, J.C. and I decided to do a little bike riding with his father-in-law, Dennis. Dennis was visiting from California and he wanted to ride as much of the Mickelson Trail as possible during his stay.
We met at the Hill City Cafe around 9:00 a.m. and worked out our plans for riding and shuttling vehicles.
J.C. planned a couple of rides so that we would be riding downhill as much as possible. Today, we would start at the Dumont Trailhead which is the highest elevation of the 14 numbered trailheads.
The trail is managed by the state park system and there is a $3 per person daily access fee (or $15 for an annual permit). The fees can be paid with self-pay envelopes at the major trailheads.
From Dumont, ....
we decided to do the 16.2 miles to the end of the trail at Deadwood. It would be a downhill ride, but the first 1.8 miles were slightly uphill to the highest point on the entire trail at over 5700 feet.
From there it was almost all downhill ...
through some scenic countryside.
The view from a trailside overlook.
We continued our descent down past the town of Lead ....
From Lead, we had another four miles of scenery .....
on our way to Deadwood.
I certainly wouldn't want to do that section in the opposite direction. :)
With stops for photos and to read the various interpretive signs, it took us about two hours and twenty minutes for this 16.2-mile section.
We had left J.C.'s vehicle at the Deadwood Trailhead. We figured out we could get my bike in the back with a quick removal of my front wheel. Once loaded up, we made a quick stop to re-stock some snacks and returned to the Dumont Trailhead where we would do a second ride for the day going in the opposite direction. We shuttled a vehicle to the Mystic Trailhead. The Dumont to Mystic section of the trail is 18 miles and, again, all downhill.
The first part of that section was through open ranch land .....
where there were cows and horses in the pastures between the hills. We also saw a few marmots in that section.
A stream ran alongside the trail most of the way. There were also remnants of old gold mines next to the stream.
In some parts, the trail ran through areas of high rock walls.
And there are over 100 bridges along the entire length of the trail.
There are four rock tunnels on the trail, two of which are on this section. One is north of the town of Rochford and one is south of Rochford. This is a shot of the first one we came to - Tunnel D.
In the town of Rochford, there is a trailhead, a store, and a restaurant and bar. However, they didn't make it very easy to access the town from the trail. Plus it was getting late and we didn't take the time to stop.
A couple of deer bounded across the trail in front of us as we left town and continued through the valley.
The sun played peek-a-boo with us all day. It was quite chilly when it wasn't out, but just about perfect when it was shining.
And there were many places along this section where I wished I had brought my small fly rod. :)
Continuing on just past the intersection with Mystic Road, we looked back to see this small waterfall.
And shortly thereafter, we were pedaling among the high rocky walls again.
The pretty Dumont to Deadwood section we did earlier paled in comparison to the beauty of the Dumont to Mystic section.
Eventually, we came to our second tunnel - Tunnel C.
Shortly thereafter, we came to the longest and highest bridge we would cross during our ride.
We spent a little extra time there enjoying the views.
Moving on, the wide stream, which was flowing in the direction of our ride, left us. The last couple of miles was slightly uphill as we rode along another stream that was flowing in the opposite direction.
We came to an area where beavers had dammed the stream and created a nice pond for their lodge.
We had seen a muskrat swimming in a pond earlier, and we were hoping to catch a glimpse of a beaver here. We stuck around just long enough as J.C. spotted one swimming from the dam to the lodge.
By then we were losing our sun behind the Black Hills ridges and we were getting tired. It wasn't much farther until we reached the Mystic Trailhead. With our relatively easy pace and stops for photos, that 18-mile section took a little less than three hours.
When I left the rig this morning, I didn't know we were doing two sections and 34-plus miles of riding. But I'm sure glad we did the Dumont to Mystic section. It will be hard to convince me there is a prettier 18 miles anywhere along the trail.
I wouldn't mind riding that section again when Linda returns. It's pretty, mostly downhill, and even our seven-speed cruiser-type bikes can handle it fairly easily, especially without the 16-mile warm-up ride. :)
We drove the dusty forest roads back toward Hill City and went our separate ways.
Tomorrow morning we are going to do another section of the Mickelson Trail. But then Linda is supposed to arrive back home tomorrow night, so I have to have a little time to spruce up the rig. :)
Anyway, if you come to the Black Hills and want to ride a portion of the Mickelson Trail, I highly recommend doing the Dumont to Mystic section. There are several bike rental companies and a few that will shuttle you to the Dumont Trailhead with your own bikes.
Just do it! :)