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Bicycling the Mickelson Trail near Custer, South Dakota
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  • States:
    South Dakota

Get ready for one of the most memorable and breathtaking trips you’ll ever take.

Winding its way through the heart of South Dakota’s famed Black Hills, from Deadwood in the north to Edgemont in the south, the 175-kilometer George S. Mickelson Trail offers not only one of the best bicycle rides in the world, but also innumerable opportunities for off-trail adventures such as rock climbing, hiking and swimming.

About the Trail

Completed in 1998, the trail – a converted Burlington Northern rail bed – was named in honor of a former South Dakota governor. Trail passes are required ($3 daily) and are available along the trail.

Before you get started, a few tips: You can rent gear or bring your own. Overnight camping on the trail is prohibited, so make arrangements with hotels and campgrounds in neighboring towns. Remember that you’ll be at elevation; climbs are typically an easy 4 percent grade but can be quite long. You’ll need plenty of food and water, as well as sunscreen and hats, as there are few opportunities once you’re on the trail. Be prepared: The weather can change in a heartbeat.

Plaque marking the Mickelson Trail

Plaque marking the Mickelson Trail
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Day One: Deadwood to Dumont

The trailhead is in Deadwood, where the crushed-gravel path leads to Dumont, about 18 kilometers away – mostly an uphill stretch. You’ll pass the famed gold-mining town of Lead on your way. Once you hit Dumont, this is one of the few sections of the trail where snowmobiling is permitted in the wintertime.