Trails: George Mickelson Trail in South Dakota (South Part)
Start: Edgemont Trailhead (Southern End of Trail at Mile Post 0).
Route: Ride north (mostly uphill) to Pringle trailhead and back.
Distance 69 miles round trip.
Weather: Sunny. Temp: 45-70 degrees.
Low Elev 3430, Hi Elev 4965. Feet Ascended: 2500
Trail Material: Crushed Limestone.
Trail Pass Required: $3 per day.
Rating: TWO Thumbs Up.
Note: For riders with a bucket list of top ten Rails-to-Trails to ride, put the George Mickelson Trail on your list.
It was a very chilly start (temp about 45) after a hail dropping cold front moved through yesterday evening. Was worried the heavy rain yesterday would muddy the trail but that turned out not to be an issue. Trail was dry like it never rained. With a high wind warning advisory issued, gusty winds was another worry that turned out not to be a problem.
I immediately had trouble finding the trailhead in the dinky city of Edgemont because "Main Street" does not exist. After finding the trailhead on 2nd Street and getting a trail pass, then I had problems finding the beginning of the trail. A non-moving train and a bridge closed for construction further compounded the problem of getting to the start of the trail. After a short unmarked 1.5 mile detour I finally got to the inconspicuous beginning of the trail next to a real railroad track.
Highlights of this trip: The Black Hill's awesome scenery. A 1500 foot climb and canyons and prairies and woodlands and valleys and farmland and animals made this a ride I did not want to end. The trip back was mostly downhill so there was a lot of coasting and relaxing.
Trail info warns to beware of rattlesnakes on the lower part of this trail. Good advice. While I was gazing at the beautiful hills in the distant I rode right over a rattlesnake. Only saw the rattlesnake right as it coiled back to strike. Thankfully the rattlesnake that no doubt was startled by the big bicycle did not strike out at my foot which stayed clipped into the pedal. There was no time to lift the leg out of the way. The rest of the trip I looked closely at every twig on the trail before riding near it.