In September 2005 my wife Nancy and I joined a few hundred other riders in the 8th annual Mickelson Trail Trek in South Dakota. The George S. Mickelson Trail–or “the Mick” for short–is a 114-mile rail-trail connecting Edgemont near the south end of the Black Hills with Deadwood in the north.
The leisurely, three-day mountain-bike spin (the trail features a fairly smooth surface of crushed rock) led us through an ever-changing drama of gold-mining history, tall granite crags, tunnels and trestles, ghost towns, pine forests and autumn-fired aspen groves, country stores, sparkling streams, and the in-progress (since 1948!) sculpturing of the Crazy Horse Memorial, which when finished will dwarf nearby Mount Rushmore. We were constantly amazed by the fact that 19th century surveyors managed to find a route through this precipitous expanse of mini-mountains flat enough for the Burlington Northern Railroad trains to follow.
The 12th annual Mickelson Trail Trek is scheduled for September 18-20, 2009. Also be aware that Adventure Cycling’s seven-day Black Hills Loop, slated for September 11-18 in 2010, takes in some 80 miles of the Mick, as well as a selection of other great cycling byways in the Black Hills.
I heartily recommend adding the Mick to your “must-ride list,” whether you’re new to bicycle travel or a saddle-savvy veteran.
photo courtesy of Mac McCoy
BIKING WITHOUT BORDERS is posted every Monday by Michael McCoy, Adventure Cycling’s field editor, and highlights a little bit of this or a little bit of that — just about anything, as long as it’s related to traveling by bicycle.