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Mickelson Trail Forum

Share your comments, questions, opinions, and advice on the Mickelson Trail.
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Bike tires
Scott from SE MN on 03/09/2021 07:19 PM
Planning a trip with friends for May, and wondering about the trail surface. We all primarily ride road bikes on asphalt and are set up for that, mostly running 25mm tires. Short of purchasing gravel bikes, what would folks think best if we just want to put on wider tires? My wife and I rode the Katy Trail in MO and found that trail surface very coarse and loose in places, really slow going w/o mt. Bike style setup. On the other hand, some crushed limestone trails in nearby WI are easily managed on road bikes with no change in tires. We’d appreciate any advice, thanks!

Scott from in SE MN on 03/12/2021 09:33 PM
Let's try it as multiple choice:
(a) hard-packed soil, (b) fine crushed limestone, (c) loose gravel, pea/bean size, (d) loose gravel, walnut size, (e) railroad ballast...
Could anyone who's ridden the trail comment on the trail surface they've experienced? Thanks!

Dandy Don from Fairfield on 03/13/2021 09:41 AM
I have done Katy, Mickelson, C&O, Gap, Cowboy, etc. Used 35 and 38mm on a hybrid, towing a Bob Trailer. Zero problems and good grip. Have also seen 25-28s bog down.

Bill from Central Illinois on 03/14/2021 05:36 PM
Hi Scott, my family stayed in Hill City two years ago and we started thinking about riding the trail then. I asked around wanting to know if my 700x25 tires would work. Virtually, everyone we met while we walked the trail were on 35-40 or higher. All said they didn't think a 700x25 set up would work. So I purchased a gravel bike with 700x40 tires and I'm looking forward to making the trip in May also. Of course, I guess anything is possible, but in May the trail could still be a little sloppy making 25s that much harder. Good luck!

Tim from Bismarck on 03/22/2021 10:01 AM
I would not advise 25's. The conditions are pretty variable. Most of the trail is pretty finely crushed rock, but there are some wet areas and the stretch on the north is no longer railroad grade and can be muddy and likewise is not "flat." I personally would not do anything less than 40's.

Anonymous on 04/18/2021 12:13 PM
May 2021 on Mickelson will have patches & areas of wet, mud and very soft gravel stretches. The tire needs to maneuver in that.

grade from Deadwood?
Alan from Boulder on 04/13/2021 01:40 PM
What is the grade of the climb out of Deadwood?

Shuttle back to start?
Ds from Duluth, MN on 04/07/2021 11:30 PM
Is it possible to get a shuttle back to the starting point? Otherwise how do you get back to your car without doing the entire route again?

Transportation from Edgemont to Valentine Ne?
SushiSeeker from Melbourne, FL on 03/27/2021 09:03 AM
Looking for a fast way to get to the Cowboy Trail. My friend and I are planning a self-supported ride along the Mickelson & Cowboy trails, and looking for a way to get between Edgemont SD and Valentine NE without riding the 200+ miles with little in-between. Any ideas? Thanks!

Edgemont Trailhead in Edgemont
dawn danyluk from ORCHARD PARK on 01/27/2021 09:00 AM
is there overnight parking at the Edgemont trail head?

Tim from Bismarck on 03/22/2021 10:32 AM
There is parking in the town of Edgemont. We left a vehicle there and everyone in town seemed really appreciative of the commerce we brought.

Dandy Don from Fairfield on 03/22/2021 04:49 PM
Similar to Tim's experience, two years ago we parked 3 vehicles for several days, right on main street, (Ohio tags), and had no problems.
Super friendly folks all along the way east.

Maddigan Oshea from North Dakota on 12/29/2020 12:59 PM
I am allowed to camp anywhere along the trail, or just camping and hotel sites?

Bill from Central Illinois on 03/14/2021 05:27 PM
From everything I've read trying to plan a trip, you can only camp in a few designated areas along the trail. There are also some National Forests along the trail where you can camp. But I do think setting up camp just anywhere along the trail is prohibited.

Tim from Bismarck on 03/22/2021 10:34 AM
I agree with the above comment. It seems like the trail is not really designed with the camping in mind.

trail info
mickey on 01/27/2021 09:19 AM
Is there ever an answer to all the questions?

CO72 on 02/10/2021 08:03 PM
Doesn't seem to be.

Scott from in SE MN on 03/12/2021 09:26 PM
LOL Just as in real life...more questions than answers. But seriously, it would certainly be helpful if a few more folks with Mikelson Trail experience & expertise would chime in with answers and opinions!

Mickelson Trail Side Trips
Manny from Waitsfield VT on 01/18/2021 03:41 PM
My wife and I plan to ride the Mickelson Trail in September 2021. We are in our 70's but in good health. We would like to depart the trail to visit Mt Rushmore and Custer State Park. Our plan is to stay in Hill City and Custer. Any advice on routes to Mt Rushmore and Custer State Park that are not to demanding? Also advice on lodging will be appreciated.

ljk from New Castle Co on 02/19/2021 12:30 PM
My husband and I are planning a similar trip during late September as well. I would love to hear more about your plans. Thanks

Manny from Waitsfield, VT on 02/27/2021 02:30 PM
I have done Google searches and contacted the Hill City Chamber of Commerce, but have been unsuccessful in obtaining good information on the bike ride from the Mickelson Trail to Mt Rushmore. We are currently planning to visit Mt Rushmore before we start the ride from Deadwood.

One day ride
bigD on 01/23/2021 05:53 AM
Looking to do the trail in one day. Tips on food, directions to services at certain mileposts would be appreciated. Any must have lunch stops

CO72 on 02/10/2021 08:01 PM
I plan to give it a shot in one day, as well. Looking for same tips.

mike on 02/12/2021 06:03 PM
There are places to stop with food in Rochford, Hill City, and Custer. Not much after Custer until Edgemont except some water stops,

DeadWheels Bike Rentals in Deadwood
edge from Backus, MN on 01/12/2021 10:20 AM
Planning a trip for fall -- Do you rent electric bikes? Are you selling the business or just the domain name?

Granite Sports in Hill City
edge from Backus, MN on 01/12/2021 10:14 AM
Planning a trip -- Does Granite Sports rent electric bikes?

National Forest Camping
Rob from Central New York on 11/27/2020 11:22 AM
Does anyone have any experience camping (front country or, preferably dispersed) in the Black Hills National Forest who biked the Trail during the day and camped at night?

Also open to experiences camping at Custer State Park or Windy Cave NP or even a KOA who biked during the day.

Please include personal experience rather than reference a place that you have not personally used.

Looking for ideas. Thank you.

Fly fishing near Mickelson Trail
Brad from Colorado from Glenwood Springs on 07/28/2020 12:26 AM
I noticed on the Mickelson Trail map it says fly fishing opportunities. Anyone know which section of the trail has good fly fishing?

Rob from Central New York on 11/27/2020 11:17 AM
I would be interested in this as well. We travelled along a pretty brook around the Mystic Trailhead. I presume it holds fish, but not sure if it is all private property with no fishing easements.

Might be a good question for the National Forest Service.

which way is better
mr_smith26 from Yankton on 11/24/2020 01:58 PM
Hey everyone, I rode this trail years ago and did about 65 miles both directions. I am looking at doing this in 2021, which way do you guys prefer and why. I looked at the map and it looks like North to South is the way to go, however I see the annual bike ride they go South to North. When I go for a bike ride, I am usually going 10-15 miles in a 1 1/2 with some hills.

Elevation of Mickelson Trail
Cactus Wren from PHX on 10/03/2020 12:41 PM
What is the elevation of the Mickelson Trail. Just returned from the Black Hills & would like to bike the trail next year. Not sure how many miles a day to ride?

Elevation of Mickelson Trail
Cactus Wren from PHX on 10/03/2020 12:40 PM
What is the elevation of the Mickelson Trail. Just returned from the Black Hills & would like to bike the trail next year. Not sure how many miles a day to ride?

Beth B from Nebraska on 08/05/2020 08:57 AM
I am looking to ride 2-4 hours out but wondering how to get back? Is there a shuttle? Do I need to make an appointment? How does that work?

RJ from MINNEAPOLIS on 09/29/2020 09:10 AM
there is not a shuttle unless you are renting bikes from a service

RJ from MINNEAPOLIS on 09/29/2020 09:13 AM
oops see comments further down about shuttle service out of Hill City

RJ from MINNEAPOLIS on 09/29/2020 08:07 AM

Goat Heads
Steve from Salida, Co on 09/13/2020 03:35 PM
Any problems with goat heads? Is water available along the way during the pandemic? If so do they shut them off for the winter? I’m looking to ride both ways at the end of September. Thanks

rmw from grand rapids, michigan on 08/25/2020 10:47 AM
Lots of questions. What type of bike, mountain, crossover, hybrid? How many days should be allow, allowing appx 30-40 miles per day. Best time of year to go? Is hotel, cabin lodging expensive? thinking about riding this with my wife in 2021. She'll be 64, I'll be 70, but both in pretty good shape. Any feedback, thoughts, suggestions would be helpful. Thanks.

Kathy from Omaha on 08/30/2020 04:05 PM
I have the same questions. My husband and I would like to bike the trail in 2021. Are there places to camp or stay in hotels along the way? Is there a recommended itinerary? Is there a shuttle that can trans port us and our bikes back to the start?

Jenny from Colorado on 09/08/2020 11:28 AM
All the lodging options, services etc are on the website ( https://bikemickelson.com/default.aspx). Just click on Towns & Services or use the map legend diagram and click on a CITY.

Rail trails : A mountain bike, hybrid bike or road bike with treaded tires (ex. Schwalbe) will be most comfortable. Your mileage / day varies due to ability, but rail trails will be slower than road travel. ANY TRIP: Prepare for all weather, bring rain gear. Protect your clothing etc. in 1 gallon ziplocs and/or weather-proof paniers (like Ortlieb). Carry water.
SHUTTLES: yes. Google found many companies to transport people, bikes, or move cars.
HOTELS: Look at SERVICES page. The BED symbol is a hotel. The TENT symbol is for camping. Reserve ahead during peak travel times (summer) especially.

Carl MacKay from Choctaw, OK on 08/12/2018 06:06 PM
What is the elevation gain for the ride? Is it extremely hilly?

Bcov on 08/12/2018 08:17 PM
Total elevation north to south is about 4,500 feet. I would assume that the south to north route would be about 5,500 feet. Not hilly, as much as long 3-6 mile uphill sections followed by equally long down hill sections.

Ray (webmaster) on 08/13/2018 08:37 AM
Here is a web page with an elevation chart: https://www.mapmyride.com/us/hot-springs-sd/mickelson-trail-route-43717916

Jeff from Fort Worth on 09/19/2018 05:20 PM
The grade on the Mickelson is very reasonable, never over 5%. The climbs can be long and monotonous on a hot day, but a cyclist in only fair shape can handle them. I saw people very out of shape on all parts of the trail, every day, with little issue.

Ray (webmaster) on 09/22/2018 10:28 AM
Here's an elevation chart of the Mickelson Trail that I put together: elevation.aspx

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. :-)

Happy trails!

CK Smith from Amarillo TX on 08/28/2020 12:07 PM
THX Very helpful visual of elevation changes. Plan to do this trail in 2021. Can't wait!

Riding alone
Siebs from Ohio on 08/18/2020 07:30 PM
How crowded is the trail in September? I would like to do part of the trail not the whole trail maybe 20 miles or so would it be safe for a woman to ride alone?

Anonymous from Custer on 08/27/2020 10:01 PM
I would consider to the Mickelson to be a very safe trail for a woman riding alone. The bigger issue is if you have a problem of any sort there is sometimes no cell service. Especially in the mid-northern sections of the trail. But I have never felt unsafe on the trail nor have I ever heard of any incidents. There are usually some amount of people riding or walking sections of the trail. But the trail is never crowded. The busiest it gets is when they have the trail trek and I think that got cancelled this year. Even then it isn't crowded.

Edgemont Trailhead in Edgemont
Eugene from Boulder co on 08/14/2020 04:15 PM
Locating at Google maps.
Where is the overnight parking at the Edgemont trail head.

Ned from California on 07/29/2020 12:39 AM
We'll be in the area top of the week. We won't have bikes but would like to ride a mellow scenic stretch of the trail for 2-4 hours, would need to rent bikes. Would love some suggestions on what leg, where to get bikes. Also is it possible to ride a few hours in one direction, then get a shuttle back? Thank you.

Deadwood Trailhead in Deadwood
Isabel from Mahomet IL on 07/26/2020 04:34 PM
Is it allowed and safe to leave your car at the trailhead if we will be riding the trail for 4 days (Deadwood to Edgemont and back)?

michael from milliken, co on 07/28/2020 07:23 PM
Left car in Edgemont for 4 days, there were several others cars there. It was fine. I didn't see any issues with the other cars. Cars that I saw left at other trailheads all seemed to be fine as we rode through.

kyle from chicago area on 07/25/2020 09:51 AM
My son and I are planning to ride the trail deadwood to Edgemont early to mid September, what weather could we expect temp hi, temp low and chance of rain ?

Psychlist on 07/26/2020 05:39 AM
If you go to this website's "weather" page at

... and scroll to the bottom of the page, you'll see a couple of "Historical Averages" links to web pages with a variety of weather statistics: monthly highs, lows, precip, etc.

Starting in Custer
Crystal from Maine on 05/28/2020 08:31 AM
Starting my planning. We will be doing a day trip in July, starting in Custer. Thoughts on which direction to travel? Toward White Elephant or toward Hill City?

Jethro on 06/25/2020 12:04 PM
North towards Hill City for sure. You can see Crazy Horse from the trail plus get to a few of the tunnels.

Crystal from Maine on 07/13/2020 10:29 AM
Thanks so much for the info!!! Are the tunnels on the way to Hill City or are they past Hill city heading toward Mystic? I would definitely like to see at least one of those.
Do you think from Custer to Hill City would be a 4 hour trip? or should I rent the bikes all day?

michael from milliken, co on 07/24/2020 02:50 PM
From Custer to Hill City is 15 miles. The round trip, I would estimate for 4 hours which would count for breaks and pictures.

One day miles
Rochelle from Ashland, MO on 07/14/2020 09:21 AM
My family (girls 11 & 8) love to ride bikes casually. Our longest ride in one day is probably 10 miles. If we start in Dumont, how many hours would it take us to get to Hill City?

michael from milliken, co on 07/24/2020 02:47 PM
From Dumont to Hill City is basically downhill. There is a climb or uphill section a few miles from Rochford. I would estimate 3 hours. Stop at all rest stops and load up on water.

Water availability
LivingLife from Des Moines on 07/01/2020 12:01 PM
Will be hitting the Mickelson starting at Dumont TH July 8. Are water sources noted on trail map along the route to Mystic reliable? Due to the impact of COVID-19 shutting down public drinking fountains need to know how much water to bring or filter from streams.

Edgemont Trailhead in Edgemont
The Norm from Riverbank Ca on 12/15/2019 12:36 AM
Is there a shuttle service from Edgemont to Deadwood? If so Contact info please. Planning to ride early Sept 2020

Dew Dude from Rapid City on 05/01/2020 07:41 AM
I know of one place in Hill City that will pick you up and take you anywhere you want along the trail. They also rent bikes if you do not want to bring yours. They are called Jack Rabbit bikes. Not sure when they start or how much they cost. Hill City is about half way point on the trail and has hotels if you need one

Dew Dude from Rapid City on 05/01/2020 07:47 AM
sorry it is called Rabbit Bikes

Jethro on 06/25/2020 12:05 PM
Yes, Black Hills Discovery Tours will shuttle you from Edgemont to Deadwood. 605-920-1020

Most scenic
Anonymous from Steamboat on 05/15/2020 02:25 PM
We are not able to ride the whole trail, which section is the most scenic. Will be doing out and backs.

The Dude. from Kansas City on 06/19/2020 09:45 AM
The section from the Dumont trailhead to the Mystic trailhead is very scenic with a few tunnels. Plus, it is a gradual downgrade almost the whole way. This means you pedal to get the bike rolling and then coast practically the whole way. It's amazing!!!

Satellite phone
Scott Shufelberger from Wichita on 06/01/2020 05:57 PM
How is cell service on the trail?

Carlos from Sioux Center, IA on 06/08/2020 09:01 AM
Cell service is very spotty between towns, zero to 1 bar most of the trip. Just rode yesterday, definitely bring your garmin.

Shuttle from Deadwood or Spearfish to Rapid City
WillyC from Wichita on 05/31/2020 09:16 AM
My brother and I need a shuttle from Deadwood or Spearfish to Rapid City on 6/12/20. Enterprise Car Rental is closed in Spearfish, so we have to get to Rapid to pick up a vehicle after riding the Cowboy & Mickelson Trails. We really want to ride the Mickelson all the way to the end! Thanks!!

bike style
bobo on 05/13/2020 12:15 PM
do I need a mountain bike to do the full ride?
or, will my skinny-tired street bike fare well?

DandyDon from Fairfield, Ohio on 05/13/2020 12:51 PM
Depends just how skinny those tires are. I did the trail last year and I think 32s to 38s are best suited for the trail.

DeadWheels Bike Rentals in Deadwood
bjjoondo from Colorado Springs, CO on 03/30/2020 03:37 PM
Looking at needing a "shuttle" from Deadwood to Edgemont for 2 RECUMBENT TRIKES (3 wheels) where our truck will be parked at a motel.Or try to find a person who'd drive our rental truck from Edgemont to Deadwood where we could spend the night and head back to Colorado Springs the next morning. Thanks have a most excellent day! :)

Edgemont Trailhead in Edgemont
bjjoondo from Colorado Springs, CO on 03/30/2020 03:28 PM
My wife and I would like to ride the trail but we have recumbent TRIKES (3 wheels) and her's is a "Class 1 E-assist" due to a heart attack in Jan. 2019. We'd have to find a way to get our "rental truck" from Edgemont to Deadwood, any ideas? We'd be looking at lodging in Edgemont, then riding to Hill City to spend the night, then riding to the end of the trail in Deadwood to spend the night, then heading home. So 3 motel stays, food stops, etc. We might look into "tent camping at Hill City and Deadwood but probably motel stays. We are 65 don't smoke or drink booze. Thanks and have a most excellent day! Looking at early to mid-June 2020 if things with the virus settle down before then! :) Sincerely BJ and JoLynn Ondo.

Custer Trailhead in Custer
Ted from Fort Collins CO on 03/04/2020 12:42 PM
Planning on riding the trail Memorial Day weekend from Custer to Deadwood and back. Are you allowed to leave your car at the trailhead parkig overnight or is there other overnight parking in the area?

Country Charm Cabins and Corrals in Pringle
Wayne from Lancaster, SC on 02/01/2020 08:16 AM
Is the road to Country Cabins safe for bicycles?

Peter Norbec Scenic Byway.
Craig from springfield, MO on 01/19/2020 02:05 PM
Going to ride the Mickelson in the fall and wanted to add some of the Peter Norbec Byway. How is the traffic and roads?

Happy on 10/08/2019 06:21 AM
How is walking this trail? Is it steep or relaxing? Thanks

Okiejuan from Sheridan, WY on 12/31/2019 06:55 AM
Given that it was originally a railroad line it will be easily walkable.

Camping allowed along the trail?
Trail Rider from San Antonio on 12/23/2019 10:16 AM
Planning a 4 day Deadwood to Edgmont ride with my wife. Will find a hotel in Hill City. Wondering if we can primitive camp along/near the trail in the Rochford and Pringle areas?

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