Bicycling on the Mickelson Trail in South Dakota
Wow, the last ten days have flown by! Go go go… We’re already practically across Iowa, even with a pause for a couple days to hang out with a high school friend in Omaha, Nebraska. I’ve had zero time to write for a variety of reasons, but before South Dakota is too far behind us, here are some photos from our time touring in the Black Hills.
After weeks of cycling, primarily with cars whizzing by, getting off pavement and away from vehicles (including the Sturgis Rally contingent) is as refreshing as a dip into a cold creek on a summer’s day. The Black Hills themselves, an eruption of peaks and tree-lined valleys in midst of the rolling northern plains, are beautiful and remind me of the forested regions of the Pacific Northwest. (I barely remember what a pine tree looks like these days. A corn stalk with spiky needles?)
Enter the George S. Mickelson Trail, 109 miles of packed limestone gravel through the heart of the Hills. It’s an old railroad bed from mining days that South Dakota turned into one of the nicest rails-to-trails I’ve seen. If you ever vist Rushmore, definitely get out on a bike (Rabbit Bicycles in Hill City rents them) and check out the trail! I won’t belabor details – these guys have the info.
Warning: If you start from Spearfish and ride up the canyon, it is a THIRTY mile climb to start out, with more elevation than climbing over Glacier. That said, it was beautiful and totally worth it. (We sure aren’t taking the flat and easy way across this country though.) Our route traced from north to south, with camping on Forest Service land one night and snagging a cozy cabin another. Can’t recommend it highly enough if you’re in the area! I’ll let the pictures do the rest of the talking…and here’s a video from the trail.
And with that, I bid you adieu. In one more day, we’ll cross out of Iowa into Illinois! Ticking off the miles and heading further east through the Midwest. The weather is hot and humid and life is good.