Trails: George Mickelson Trail in South Dakota (North End)
Start: Mystic Trailhead (Mile Post 75).
Route: Ride north to Deadwood (Mile Post 108+) and back.
Distance 73 miles round trip.
Weather: Sunny. Temp: 50-70 degrees.
Low Elev 4600, Hi Elev 6225. Feet Ascended: 3500
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.
Another chilly start (low 50s). No trouble finding this trailhead since the ride yesterday turned around at it.
Highlights of this trip: One major climb of about 1500 feet over 19 miles then the trail drops 1600 feet over the next 15 miles into Deadwood. Unlike the middle and south parts of the Mickelson trail with all railroad slope grades, some of the slopes on the north end reach 5 percent with one short climb of over 15 percent. That one had sure had me huffing and puffing. The 6200 feet elevation may make those used to lower sea level elevations huff and puff even more.
The north end of the Mickelson trail gives the rider a more mountainous experience with long sweeping curves and steep trailside terrain. The previous small trailside stream becomes wider with more rushing water and a few small waterfalls. There are some seriously dangerous areas where if you lose attention looking at something and ride off the trail, it is going to be a long, long fall to the bottom. Makes for a more exciting ride. The deer and other animals, beautiful mountains, rushing water, beautiful meadows blanketed with wildflowers, tunnels, rocks, and more made this another ride I did not want to end.
Breaking up the 108 mile trail into three out and back full day rides turned out to be the perfect way for me to expetience this awesone trail.
The only warning I give is South Dakota appears to be a Tourist Trap with ridiculous prices but I there just as the hugely popular Sturgis Motorcycle Rally was about to begin.