The George S. Mickelson Trail, the Heart of the Black Hills
The George S. Mickelson Trail, in the heart of the beautiful Black Hills, was completed in September of 1998. The George S. Mickelson Trail has gentle slopes and easy access allow people of all ages and abilities to enjoy the beauty of the Black Hills.The Mickelson trail is 109 miles long and contains more than 100 converted railroad bridges and 4 rock tunnels. The trail surface of the George S. Mickelson Trail is primarily crushed limestone and gravel.
The Mickelson Trail was originally the Burlington Northern line that took trains from Edgemont, SD to the northern Black Hills and the gold mines of Deadwood area. The trail transverses the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota. The line was abandoned in 1983. A group of outdoor enthusiasts recognized the trails potential, and with support of the then Governor Mickelson, it became the states' first rails to trails project.
The first 6 miles of the trail were dedicated in 1991. After many years of hard work, and collaboration between the US Forest Service, South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department, the National Guard, the South Dakota Department of Transportation, the South Dakota Department of Corrections, and the local Friends of the Mickelson Trail, the trail was completed in 1998.
The surface is primarily crushed limestone and gravel. There are currently 14 trailheads which all offer parking, self-sale trail pass stations ($3 daily or $15 annual), vault toilets, and tables. The grades of the trail do not exceed 4 percent for the most part, but parts of the trail are considered strenuous. Traveling from Deadwood (4550 feet) in the southern direction toward Edgemont (3400 feet), the trail looses approximately 1150 feet in overall elevation.
Trail Pass availability is listed here: http://gfp.sd.gov/state-parks/directory/mickelson-trail/trail-passes.aspx
Also available is a printable Mickelson Trail Birding Guide : http://www.sdgfp.info/Publications/Parks/GSMTbirding.pdf