Rails to Trails

I already established I’m not a golfer.  I must admit I’m not a cyclist either but if you are, you have a fantastic opportunity to enjoy a truly unique ride through the Black Hills.  The Mickelson Trail is in the heart of the Black Hills.  It’s got a gentle grade and easy access that makes this trail ride perfect for bikers of all ages and abilities.  There is a group of SDDOT employees who do their own ride each year.  It’s become a popular event for staff from across the state to attend.  

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This trail was once a vital rail line that went from Edgemont, South Dakota to the northern Black Hills and the gold mines of the Deadwood area.  It was originally built in 9 months and 22 days.   It was abandoned in 1983.  A group of outdoor enthusiasts recognized the trail’s potential, and with the support of then Governor Mickelson, it became South Dakota’s first Rails-to-Trails project.  

I’m proud to say the SDDOT was a part of a group that included the US Forest Service, South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks, National Guard, South Dakota Department of Corrections and local friends of the Mickelson Trail that worked for many years to see the trail completed in 1998.  

The trail is 109 miles long and contains more than 100 converted railroad bridges and 4 rock tunnels.  The trail surface is primarily crushed limestone and gravel.  There are 15 trailheads, all of which offer parking, self-sale trail pass stations, vault toilets, and tables.

While you won’t be riding the entire trail, you will be riding a portion of the trail that is extremely scenic and designed for riders of all skill levels.  The riders will start at Dumont and ride approximately 3 hours along 32 miles of the trail south into Hill City, the first organized town in the Black Hills.  Along the way you will traverse through 4 tunnels and many bridges as you cross the headwaters of Rapid Creek. 

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The staff planning this event has years of experience cycling the trail.  There will be a shadow vehicle in case the 32 miles a little more than you bargained for.  Bike rentals are available to make it easy for you to participate.  Hope you’ll take advantage of this chance to spend time in the heart of the Black Hills on the Mickelson Trail. 

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Darin P. Bergquist, Secretary
South Dakota Department of Transportation