Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Mickelson Trail

Summer 2010,  Swimming off the trail
The history of the Mickelson Trail starts back in 1889 when the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad was established. In the 110 miles the rail travels through the Black Hills from Deadwood to Edgemont there are 100 bridges and 4 tunnels. For nearly 100 years the rail ran, until in 1983 it was finally abandoned.

In 1989 it was submitted to be the first rail-to-trails project in South Dakota. Thanks to the SD Game, Fish and Parks and the US Forest Service,  SDDOT and (unexpectedly) the SD Corrections Dept.
the transformation from railroad to trail was completed in 1998. It was named in honor of the late Gov. George Mickelson who'd helped plan it's development.

Today, the trail is open to the general public for hiking, bicycling, horse-back riding, skiing and snowshoeing and even some snowmobiling. Josh and I have hiked around Deadwood, Lead and Englewood but never further south. For the most part it surface is crushed limestone but there are a few places where you have to cross grassy fields.

Sturgis 2010, Walking on the trail out of Deadwood
The scenery along the Mickelson is typical Black Hills scenery. High, jagged peaks with Jack pines that line the valley walls and the open forest beneath them that's carpeted with long, golden prairie grasses. Streams meander next to the trail. Each bow offers another breathtaking photo. So on and so forth.

The history here is young by the worlds terms but it is still very rich and alive. Not too long ago this was untamed country. It was the Paha Sapa of the Souix, a sacred place and that feeling still lingers. Then in 1876 miners flooded these hills in search for gold. Some found it. Along the trail there are the remnants of their abandoned mining towns that are left for us to explore. There is always something to see here.

Now, the reason that I've laid out all this background about the Mickelson is that Josh and I have decided that by 1 year from now we will have hiked, biked or snowshoed the entire 110 miles. Since we rode into town we have been talking about doing this. The time has finally come for us to get out on the trail. We are currently trying to map out which sections we'd like to hike, snowshoe or bike. We will be keeping track of our progress through blogs over the next few months.

And if you live nearby maybe you'd like to join us...

Trail starts in Deadwood & ends in Edgemont

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing about your mission to complete the entire Mickelson Trail! What a great goal, there is so much to see on the trail and many options for how you'd like to take it all in.

    Thanks for sharing your passion for this great place in South Dakota!

    Best of luck!
    Katlyn Richter
    South Dakota Office of Tourism