Mountain - Plains Colorado | Kansas | Missouri | Montana | North Dakota | Nebraska | South Dakota | Utah | Wyoming

George Mickelson trail questions

Old 01-28-17, 02:38 PM
  #1  
bikemig 
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
bikemig's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Middle Earth (aka IA)
Posts: 15,150

Bikes: A bunch of old bikes and a few new ones

Mentioned: 107 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3623 Post(s)
Liked 73 Times in 65 Posts
George Mickelson trail questions

I'll be heading up that way this summer as part of a longer trip I am starting to plan. Any suggestions on what are the best parts of the trail to ride and where might be some good places to camp are welcome. I'm just car/tent camping so rustic is good as long as there is running water.
bikemig is offline  
Old 01-31-17, 10:36 AM
  #2  
indyfabz
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 22,407
Mentioned: 163 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 8617 Post(s)
Liked 354 Times in 227 Posts
Rode most of the trail in 2015. Englewood trailhead to the trail's southern terminus in Edgemont.


The trail is quite isolated in most places so legal camping with running water is pretty much available at private campgrounds in/around Deadwood/Lead, Hill City, Custer and Edgemont. My favorite sections were from Englewood to the Mystic area and Custer south. Camping in Edgemont is at a city campground with showers and running water/flush toilets. However, it's right next to a busy rail line. Lot's of train noise.


In Hill City I stayed at Crooked Creek Campground. It's literally right next to the trail south of the center of town and looked much better than the other private place along the trail. There is also a U.S.F.S. campground called Oreville a few miles south of Hill City on U.S. 385.


I spent a few nights in Custer during my tour of the Black Hills. I stayed a bit out of town at Fortwelikit Campground because I somehow missed this place when planning my trip:


https://campnative.com/campgrounds/u...ark-campground


It's right along the trail and within walking distance of Custer's commercial strip but it's still in a quiet section. Riding the trail north from Custer to the Crazy Horse monument is an easy, half day ride, but it's all up hill to get there.


Keep in mind that the trail is not flat in a lot places. There are some significant grades for a rail trail. When I first picked up the trail in Englewood I faced a five mile uphill. There is another climb heading south from Mystic. I had done a lot of climbing on road before I hit the trail. I was bushed and it was nearly dark by the time I got to Hill City. Check the official website for the profile.


There is a shuttle service that I think is based in Hill City. If you camp in town you could get s shuttle north to somewhere like Rochford or even further north and ride south back to town. They will also pick you up in Custer and shuttle you north. (Met a couple in Custer that did that.
indyfabz is offline  
Old 01-31-17, 02:36 PM
  #3  
indyfabz
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 22,407
Mentioned: 163 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 8617 Post(s)
Liked 354 Times in 227 Posts
BTW...If you are in Hill City for any length of time there is a steam train ride you can take to Keytstone and back. Keystone is the tacky town at the foot of the hill leading up to Mr. Rushmore. I did a loop from the Mt. Rushmore KOA through Keytstone to the monument and then back to the KOA via SD 244. Getting to Keystone, I followed a back road that paralleled and crossed the rail line several times for much of the way. Very pretty.


Don't stay at the KOA. It's combat camping at its finest. At night, the hot tub was full of drunk yahoos.


I also wanted to add that you should bring sufficient snacks for your ride. The Mickelson is not a "warm and fuzzy" trail with frequent little tows along the way. Other than Deadwood at the northern end has stuff, as does Lead a little further south. After that, there is nothing until Rochford, where I hear there is a restaurant. From there, there is nothing until Hill City. There is nothing between Hill City and Custer. Between Custer and the southern terminus in Edgemont there is one bar/restaurant in Pringle. I believe it's closed on Sunday. The good news is that there are numerous water cisterns at shelters along the trail. All of the ones I tried were filled. Definitely bring sunscreen.


And carry rain gear. I was there in mid to late June. Not long after I set up my tent in Hill City a massive thunderstorm rolled through producing hail up to the size of golf balls. The day I met that couple in Custer who was getting the shuttle up north I was going to ride to Hill City and back. I figured I might see them in Hill City on their way back south. I did. It started raining in town and the temperature dropped some 20 degrees. I was hanging out in a shelter along the trail when the couple pulled in. They had gotten caught in a massive t-storm up on the hill south of Mystic. Their problems were complicated by a herd of free range cattle that would not move for a while as they were getting poured on. The wife was adequately dressed with cool weather and rain gear. The husband, not so much. Shorts, a feeble rain jacket and only short gloves. He was shivering, and his fingers were literally blue from the cold from descending into Hill City. They called the shuttle service and got driven back to Custer.
indyfabz is offline  
Old 01-31-17, 09:21 PM
  #4  
bikemig 
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
bikemig's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Middle Earth (aka IA)
Posts: 15,150

Bikes: A bunch of old bikes and a few new ones

Mentioned: 107 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3623 Post(s)
Liked 73 Times in 65 Posts
Thanks @indyfabz; great info. Yeah I'm likely to have a camelbak; I tend to bring a fair amount of water when I'm riding out in areas this isolated. And I always bring a rain shell and some extra gear but good to know about the trail and possible weather.
bikemig is offline  
Old 02-01-17, 07:27 AM
  #5  
indyfabz
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 22,407
Mentioned: 163 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 8617 Post(s)
Liked 354 Times in 227 Posts
The shelters are nice as they provide shade and protection from rain and hail.

No doubt you are used to t-storms. But I think the guy in my story failed to appreciate that getting caught in a big storm at altitude can pose serious risks. The hill between the Mystic area and Hill City tops out at over 5,500'. That's about the altitude of the highest paved road in Washington state. The trail reaches a maximum altitude of over 6,000' south of Englewood. Weather can get funky at those altitudes.

This photo to the one before the train with the clouds above it were taken on the trail:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/105349...7655263744881/

Depending on the section, you will encounter a good deal of those cattle gates. Not a big problem when riding without panniers. Different story fully loaded. They really slow you down. Also, some sections have a ton of bridges. The transition from dirt to planked bridge is rarely smooth. It's wise to slow a bit as you approach a bridge in case the transition isn't smooth.

With all that said, it's a beautiful ride with a variety of scenery.
indyfabz is offline  
Old 02-20-17, 12:42 PM
  #6  
jdswitters
Senior Member
 
jdswitters's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Fort Collins CO
Posts: 831

Bikes: Torker Graduate, Framed Minnesota1.0, Salsa Fargo, 2014 &2013 Felt NBBcruiser, '59 magneet path racer,

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 8 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 2 Times in 2 Posts
The Mickelson trail guidebook is an excellent source of information. Available all over south Dakota or online.

I have ridden it twice in the spring, but I usually hotel it for accommodations. The highlight reel as I like to call it is from Hill city to Mystic or Rochford. If you like a midday beer the Moonlight gulch Saloon in Rochford is a neat spot. From Hill city to Mystic you get a good feel for the old bridges, the grade and two old tunnels. It makes for a nice round trip if you are inclined to go that route, which is how I first started to ride the trail while up there on business, one round trip section at a time. Lots of good info on line also, Mickelson Trail Affiliates.

Good luck and have fun, it is my favorite rails to trails trip.
jdswitters is offline  
Old 02-28-17, 11:47 PM
  #7  
onomic
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 12
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Thanks for the info. We have a group that will be riding the Mickelson this June and we've been collecting all the info we can. It'll be a challenge for sure, we'll have a 5 & 6 year old it tow but I think it'll be a very rewarding trip for all and the black hills are just amazing! As long as we can find a few ice cream cones along the way life will be good.
onomic is offline  
Old 03-02-17, 09:13 PM
  #8  
ryanmarthaller
Newbie
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 4
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I hope you don't mind me adding a question or two here.

I am planning on riding the entire trail this June and wondering about which bike makes the most sense. I've got an older hardtail rockhopper and then my road/gravel bike a Specialized Diverge with 35x700 tires.

I'd really prefer riding the diverge if it's do-able. If it just doesn't make sense to go that route I could do the hardtail

Thanks for any advice!
ryanmarthaller is offline  
Old 03-05-17, 07:41 AM
  #9  
flying_rhino
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2016
Posts: 52
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 26 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Hi ryanmarthaller, I live in western SD and have riden the entire trail a couple of times. I strongly recommend going with the Diverge. Except for a few loose spots when the weather's been dry, the trail is much more enjoyable on a drop bar bike.
flying_rhino is offline  
Old 03-06-17, 08:22 AM
  #10  
ryanmarthaller
Newbie
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 4
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by flying_rhino View Post
Hi ryanmarthaller, I live in western SD and have riden the entire trail a couple of times. I strongly recommend going with the Diverge. Except for a few loose spots when the weather's been dry, the trail is much more enjoyable on a drop bar bike.
Thanks!
ryanmarthaller is offline  
Old 03-10-17, 01:04 PM
  #11  
indyfabz
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 22,407
Mentioned: 163 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 8617 Post(s)
Liked 354 Times in 227 Posts
Originally Posted by ryanmarthaller View Post
Thanks!
I agree. No need for a MTB. Rode it fully loaded with my Surly LHT on 37c tires. Perfectly fine. There were a few spots between the last trail and the Edgemont that were washed out a bit due to the heavy June rains of 2015, but I simply skateboarded through them.
indyfabz is offline  
Old 03-15-17, 12:13 PM
  #12  
indyfabz
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 22,407
Mentioned: 163 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 8617 Post(s)
Liked 354 Times in 227 Posts
Originally Posted by onomic View Post
It'll be a challenge for sure, we'll have a 5 & 6 year old it tow but I think it'll be a very rewarding trip for all and the black hills are just amazing! As long as we can find a few ice cream cones along the way life will be good.

Off the trail a bit In Rochford I believe there is a store that sells ice cream. Hill City and Custer have everything. After Custer, there is only a bar-restaurant in Pringle before the end of the trail in Edgemont.


Don't underestimate Deadwood to Hill City. It has the longest uphill sections and, as noted above, Rochford is the only place with any commercial services. (Don't know if they are open on Sundays.) I hit the trail at the Engelwood trailhead and immediately had a 4 mile uphill section which Ride With GPS said averaged 2.9%. The headwind didn't make it any easier. During the climb from Mystic I came across a group of tweens/young teens and their chaperone who had started in Deadwood. They were so tired they were walking the ascent. I am confident they didn't make it to Hill City before dark because I bombed the descent and barely made it to town before dark, and when I left the group they still had a couple of miles to the start of the descent. This was around June 17th, so it's not like it got dark early.


Another than that chews up time are the cattle gates. You have to stop, open them, go through and make sure they close and hitch again. Also, the transitions from trail surface to bridge is not always smooth. It's best to slow down as you approach one of the many bridges to determine if there is a deep rut at the transition.


The takeaway is to get an early start from Deadwood if you will be heading north to south (which I recommend) and bring plenty of food/snacks for the journey to Hill City. Absent something out of the ordinary, there should be plenty of water in the cisterns.
indyfabz is offline  
Old 04-16-17, 05:45 PM
  #13  
colorado dale
cycling for 50 plus yrs
 
colorado dale's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Silverthorne/Lakewood, CO
Posts: 411

Bikes: IF Crown Jewell

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
"summer" you want to avoid the weeks around the strugis bike rally prices for lodging (if you can find any) will more than double so don't expect to find any camping
35c's will work just fine except for a few wash outs
rabbit bicycle hill city is the only bicycle shop on the trail
I've stayed in crooked creek campground a number of times reach out and touch the trail from your campsite
most bicyclists love pie custer has the purple pie shop a block or two off the trail.
hill city should be called valley city its a climb going either south or north


prettiest section is a debate lets say mystic has water, hill city to custer you have granite outcroppings and crazy horse, south of custer farms, a canyon a historic bridge so each section has something different
colorado dale is offline  
Old 04-29-17, 06:34 PM
  #14  
flying_rhino
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2016
Posts: 52
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 26 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
FYI - Rabbit closed up at the end of last season (he retired).
flying_rhino is offline  
Old 05-01-17, 05:53 AM
  #15  
indyfabz
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 22,407
Mentioned: 163 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 8617 Post(s)
Liked 354 Times in 227 Posts
Originally Posted by flying_rhino View Post
FYI - Rabbit closed up at the end of last season (he retired).
Seems it was sold:

We are your EXPERTS on the Mickelson Trail for Rentals & Shuttle Service in the Black Hills
indyfabz is offline  
Old 05-01-17, 08:05 PM
  #16  
flying_rhino
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2016
Posts: 52
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 26 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Good for him, I knew he was looking for a buyer and after the big Nov. sell-off of inventory, I thought he gave up. Thanks for the correction!
flying_rhino is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Thread Starter
Forum
Replies
Last Post
johnnyspaghetti
Great Lakes
0
09-14-17 09:52 AM
kardar2
General Cycling Discussion
1
05-03-12 07:14 AM
bent4me
General Cycling Discussion
0
03-10-11 01:09 PM
bent4me
Recumbent
0
03-10-11 01:00 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service

Copyright 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.