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Share your comments, questions, opinions, and advice on the Mickelson Trail.
 
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Trail Conditions Oct. 22 & 23
 - 
Brad from Iowa on 10/20/2021 07:51 AM
Would like to drive the seven hours to the Hills and ride the trail Fri. and Sat. I see reports of some snow recently in the Hills. Would appreciate opinions on if the trail will be a decent ride on Fri. and Sat. this week before making the long trip out there. Thanks!

 
Jenny Lee from Casper, WY on 10/22/2021 06:26 AM
Following this question. I’m also hoping to ride the trail this weekend, but I heard snow now iOS likely be a factor.

 
Brad Anderson from Thornton Co on 10/22/2021 06:45 AM
We are in Lead now. Looked like some snow in the trail but planning to check it out this morning. I have a trail report this afternoon. We are riding from Edgemont to Denver tomorrow morning. I think we will be able to ride trail Edgemont to Custer then take road if need be. At Hill City we can take gravel roads to Deadwood if we need to.

 
Anonymous on 10/22/2021 05:26 PM
10/22 - Hill City to Mountaintop snow covered in all shaded areas and all bridges. Had to walk the bikes maybe three or 4 miles. Mountaintop to Custer was fine. If the temp hold up the snow may be gone in a few more days.

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Trail condition on 10/15/21?
 - 
Decker from Rapid city on 10/14/2021 05:44 PM
How is the trail for biking after the snow storm we just received?

 
Kurt from Fort Collins on 10/17/2021 03:18 PM
Just finished a ride from Custer to Edgemont. Leaving Custer the trail was under 2" of crusty snow, still left from the storm this week. Unrideable. Rode the highway to White Elephant trailhead. The rest of the ride was lovely.

Except for the locked gates at Sheep Canyon. WTH. The south gate even has barbed wire. Good luck getting a 70 lb. ebike through there (not my case).

 
Kurt from Fort Collins on 10/17/2021 03:18 PM
Just finished a ride from Custer to Edgemont. Leaving Custer the trail was under 2" of crusty snow, still left from the storm this week. Unrideable. Rode the highway to White Elephant trailhead. The rest of the ride was lovely.

Except for the locked gates at Sheep Canyon. WTH. The south gate even has barbed wire. Good luck getting a 70 lb. ebike through there (not my case).

 
Kurt from Fort Collins on 10/17/2021 08:55 PM
Talked to another rider after my previous post, and he said that the locked gates weren't actually locked to the post, and you can fit a bike through them. Guess I didn't study it hard enough.

 
Brad Anderson from Thornton on 10/18/2021 06:09 AM
Just wondering how snow conditions from Deadwood to Custer. Looking to ride Edgemont to Deadwood this coming Saturday. I think Tuesday is a chance for some moisture but hoping trail opens up by Saturday.

Thanks for any info
Brad

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Crazy Horse Memorial
 - 
Shellie from Bend, OR on 10/11/2021 02:17 PM
Given that the Mickelson Trail goes right past the Crazy Horse Memorial I am planning to stop and see it when I ride the trail in June. My question is regarding the Avenue of the Chiefs road that leads to the visitor center...is that road safe to cycle on? From what I can tell from Google Earth it looks very wide and may even have a bike lane or a shoulder to ride on?? Many thanks in advance for your insight.

 
JDM from ND on 10/11/2021 02:54 PM
I would say it is reasonably safe. It is 4 lanes, quite short, and slower speed limit as I recall. I don't remember if there is a shoulder, but I remember it being quite wide. We visited by vehicle, but I don't think I would have hesitated taking my family on that road. Here is a horrible, yet accurate video I found:
https://youtu.be/77FG8tjfDm8?t=158

The video should start you where the driver turns off the highway and onto Ave of Chiefs.

 
Shellie from Bend, OR on 10/11/2021 05:24 PM
Thank you so much! The video shows the road is indeed quite wide and there is what appears to be a nice shoulder to ride on.

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Lodging/stops between Custer and Edgemont?
 - 
Ranger from Boulder on 08/22/2021 04:55 PM
Looking on the map, it looks like there are no places to stay after Custer, making it a 43 mile ride from Custer to Edgemont. I've heard rumors of a place to stay in Pringle, but not really making any headway finding it. Surely not everyone can ride the 43 miles between Custer and Edgemont in a day???? What do people do/recommend?

 
AJ on 08/25/2021 06:32 AM
You can easily do the 43 mile ride from Custer to Edgemont in a day. It's mostly all downhill. I remember certain chunks of it we were cruising at 20 mph, hardly peddling. We did Hill City to Edgemont in about 6-7 hours. We were not avid bikers at the time, so if you are in decent physical shape - it shouldn't be a problem.

 
Mike from Irvine, CA on 10/08/2021 03:40 PM
I agree with AJ. I did the Mickelson in 2 days (Deadwood to Hill City in 3.5hrs and then Hill City to Edgemont in 4hrs), and it was far easier than it looked on paper. Next time I'll do it in one day, and I'm not a particularly strong rider. North to South, there is a lot of downhill.

 
JDM from ND on 10/08/2021 04:44 PM
If it makes you feel any different, my group did it. We consisted of 4 adults who are not avid riders, and 4 kids ranging from 7-11.

It wasn't a cake walk, and I would say it seems mostly flat with some downhills and the occasional uphill thrown in.

Here is the elevation map:
https://bikemickelson.com/elevation.aspx

The Forest service has one as well.

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My Mickelson Experience (Deadwood to Edgemont)
 - 
Mike from Irvine, CA on 10/08/2021 03:02 PM
I rode the Mickelson from Deadwood to Edgemont in the middle of September 2021. I decided to do it over 2 days, as doing the 109 miles in one day seemed daunting. I can do those miles on the road, but was unsure how it would be in the gravel. I am an active 50 year old, but not a high level athlete.

I started by dropping my truck off at the trailhead in Edgemont. There is plenty of parking at the trailhead, and the locals say it is safe to park there. I got a shuttle from there to Deadwood where I checked into a hotel.

The next morning I got started at 8am with the plan to make it to Hill City where I had a hotel room booked. The gravel is immaculately maintained, and the crushed limestone is like concrete. I was doing this on my hardtail mountain bike, and my XC tires rolled very fast on it. considerably faster than I was expecting. The climb out of Deadwood is long (around 15 miles), but the grade is not bad at all. I guess it all depends on the terrain you are used to, but I found it much easier than expected and pushed hard up that climb. The second long climb into Hill city is where I felt the effects of pushing so hard out of Deadwood. Next time I'll pace myself a little better there.

I got to Hill City at 11:30am (51 miles in on my Garmin which included miles getting to/from trailheads). This left me with way too much time on my hands in a city with little to do with nothing but my bike and bike clothes. Hotel check in time wasn't until 3pm and they were not too happy when I asked to check in early. In hindsight, I would have just kept pedaling and finished the trail in one day.

The next morning I got an earlier start at 7am, as I was itching to get riding again. There is a bit of a climb from Hill City to Custer, but after that it is pretty much flat or downhill with small little rises here and there. You make time very quickly from Custer to Edgemont. This leg was 61 miles on my Garmin (Hill City to Edgemeont) and took me 4 hours.

The scenery on the trail was exactly what I was hoping for. Big variety of ecosystems/wildlife etc. Absolutely beautiful. Overall great experience, but next time I would definitely do it all in one day.

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trail riding info, lodging
 - 
Ron Wood on 10/04/2021 10:50 AM
In September 2022, thinking about riding Edgemont to Custer, spend the night, then back to Custer. Pack up, do laundry, rest, go sightseeing, etc. Then travel by car to Deadwood, ride from Deadwood to Hill City, spend the night, then back to Deadwood. This would save carrying a lot of stuff, and we could see most of the trail. Need recommendations for affordable lodging that is close to trailhead in Edgemont and Deadwood. Does the make any sense?

 
JDM from ND on 10/04/2021 12:36 PM
Not sure it would help, but I know my wife and Sister-in-law looked for the most budget friendly places they could. That being said, we stayed at the Best Western in both Custer and Hill City. I believe both have coin operated laundry facilities.

After having been there just a few weeks ago, I might also dig a little deeper and search for cabin rentals. You might find something less expensive, but laundry might mean you look for a business in town to get that done. VRBO.com and Airbnb.com are also worth a try. You may be more flexible than we were as our party was 10 people.

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My Mickelson Experience
 - 
JDM from ND on 09/27/2021 06:59 PM
We just completed our journey from Deadwood to Edgemont and I wanted to put some information out there that may help others as well as some of my own comments. First, it was amazing to be in the mountains again. They are certainly my happy place! Our group was 4 adults and 4 children ranging in age of 7-11 and none of us are expert riders. Our plan was to split the journey up into 5 days. We planned to ride from Deadwood to Rochford, then to Hill City, onto Custer, then Hot Springs and finally Edgemont. We decided to power thru the 4th day and ride the 44 miles from Custer to Edgemont. Logistics worked wonderfully with my in-laws being our pit-crew. I modified an enclosed trailer with bike racks so we had my rig and that of my in-laws to shuffle equipment and bodies to and from. This setup was certainly the keystone of our trip!

We all did what we could to get ourselves ready for this trip, but there were certainly some shortcomings. I think you need to be an avid rider or dedicate yourself to several long-distance rides prior to the trip to be more prepared. But aside from sore saddles and other muscles, we had a wonderful time! Collectively we felt our favorite parts of the ride where between Deadwood and Hill city because the trail is far enough from the highway that it's peaceful with less human interference. Seemed we had good Verizon cell service for most of the trail with the exception of an approx. 20 mile radius around Rockford. Once leaving Rochford, my GPS wanted to take me out to hwy 385 to get to Hill city, but that was a 2hr loop from there. So we forced it to take us South on Rochford Road enduring the 20ish miles of dirt road thru very scenic valleys.

As you leave Hill City, the scenery changes to more of a high desert; coupled with the trail paralleling the highway for most of it; this became our least favorite section. At Pringle the trail diverges again from the highway and back into more beautiful valleys. From here, there is far less traffic on hwy 89, so when it does parallel the main roads, it’s not nearly as intrusive. As you continue south, the scenery changes to open spaces with buttes, which some may find more appealing than Alpine forests, but at this point, we were ready to be done.
In Edgemont, you have to watch for signs for the end of the trail. The map on this site is accurate in that the trail ends where it meets Hwy 185 NE of town. From there you jog east and then immediately south to catch Old Hwy 18. Ride that into town looking to turn south on 2nd street. Then less than ½ mile from there, you will see the city park and the end of the trail.

We stayed our last night in Hot Springs, hoping it to be more touristy than it was. If you stay at the Baymont, set your standards low. In fact, my immediate family had planned to stay an extra night there but cancelled our reservations in favor of something in Spearfish instead. That worked out MUCH better. Nicer place to be, back in the mountains, and then somewhat closer for our journey home.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. We spent 9 days in the area splitting touristy stuff with biking and enjoying as many of the local breweries as we could. If you are researching this trail, it is very fun and we had great weather the last couple weeks in Sept. The trade off is that fewer restaurants are open, making it hard to find dinner places without crazy wait times. But we made due.

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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.

 
Chuckie from Denver on 09/15/2021 06:31 PM
I just rode from Edgemont to Custer on 32s. Cyclo-cross bike with loaded panniers. I fishtailed on numerous occasions. I wouldn't suggest anything smaller than a 32.

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Riding a tandem on trail
 - 
papa from SPRINGFIELD, MO on 04/21/2021 01:43 PM
Have ridden Katy from end to end on our tandem, can it be done on Michelson? Our tandem has 26 x1.25 tires, which worked well on Katy.

 
Dennis from Fort Collins CO on 05/23/2021 12:47 PM
we rode the Mick on a comotion speedster tandem in June 2017 on 700x35c tires. It was fine except a bit tricky in the sandy sections just before Edgemont. It may be more difficult if the trail gets very wet.
We also rode that tandem on the Allegeney and C&O.

 
Chuckie from Denver on 09/15/2021 06:24 PM
I just rode it on 32s and was fine except for the two times I slipped off the edge into the soft shoulder. The previous post is spot on. You will want more than 32s if it has recently rained. It all depends on how good of a bike handler you are.

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Pringle Trailhead in Pringle
 - 
Rosco 7 from Anthem on 06/05/2021 09:13 AM
Is there a place to camp for the night near the Pringle trailhead?

 
Ray (webmaster) on 06/08/2021 07:31 PM
If you go to AirBnB.com and search for Pringle SD, you'll find a log cabin and several campsites listed at "Plenty Star Ranch". The AirBnB maps makes it look like 2 or 3 miles north of Pringle.

 
Chuckie from Denver on 09/15/2021 06:17 PM
I rode past it today. It's a few miles north of Pringle. At $45 for a tent site it's a little too close to the highway for me.

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SMOKE
 - 
2MANDM from TULSA on 07/30/2021 12:24 PM
GETTING READY TO RIDE MICHELSON IN A COUPLE WEEKS. ANYONE ABLE TO GIVE INFO AS TO IF SMOKE FROM THE WILDFIRES IN SURROUNDING STATES IS IN THE AREA AND CAUSING CHALLENGES WITH BREATHING ON THE RIDE

 
AJ on 08/03/2021 06:18 PM
Was just in the Custer area this past weekend and there was significant smoke. Could definitely cause some challenges. I am biking the trail in a few weeks as well.

 
Chuckie from Denver on 09/15/2021 06:14 PM
I'm in Custer right now. Road up from Edgemont this morning. No smoke at all. Use www.purpleair.com for smoke readings

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Edgemont Trailhead in Edgemont
 - 
Glen Steliga from Redwood Valley, CA on 09/13/2021 02:55 PM
Is there tent camping in Edgemont near the Michelson trailhead? The only campground I see is an RV spot near the train tracks. Is that it for camping in Edgemont? looking forward to riding the trail in a couple weeks.

 
Chuckie from Denver on 09/15/2021 05:13 PM
Yes. It's $15 for a tent site. But be warned that the trains run by there all night long. Unless you are a really heavy sleeper, I would suggest a night at the Cowboy Inn instead.

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Custer State Park
 - 
Reese from Lebanon PA on 09/06/2021 04:16 PM
I am trying to plan a trip for September 2022 from PA to Rapid City to visit Mt. Rushmore, and that general area. The Custer State Park looks interesting to me. I am interested in riding the Mickelson trail. I see that there is a spur from the State Park to the trail. I am a bike rider, primarily rail trails. I don't necessarily want to do a long distance, just a sample of the trail. My primary focus of this trip is sightseeing through that section of SD and drive through WY to Grand Teton National Park. How is the trail in the general area of the State Park?

 
patty from memphis on 09/06/2021 06:47 PM
Hi Reese. I am going there this week ! I plan to bike part of the Mickelson as well as stay in Custer SP. I didn't realize that there is a spur from the park over to the MT ?? Wonder where you can access it? Maybe I can ask a ranger. How did you find it?

 
Reese on 09/07/2021 04:50 AM
The spur is located at Gordon Stockade in Custer State Park according to Trail Link by the Rails to Trails Conservancy in the Custer State Park Spur Facts section

 
Todd from Saxton, Pa on 09/07/2021 05:12 AM
I did not see the trailhead in the park but it connects right in the town of Custer. From there it is an excellent 6 mile ride up to Crazy Horse.

 
patty from memphis on 09/07/2021 06:58 AM
thx! I'll try to find the spur while in the park

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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.

 
Judi P from GRANTHAM, NH on 05/09/2021 02:22 PM
What I usually do is check out the routes that bike touring groups use. I believe Sojourner (from VT) has tours on the Mickelson. My husband and I (from NH) will be biking the Mickelson at the end of May (after the Cowboy Trail, Cardinal Greenway, KATY, Ohio-Erie Canal and Erie Canal Bike trails on way to MT).

 
Anonymous from Moab on 05/12/2021 06:00 PM
From just south of Hill city you can get on HWY 16 up to Mount Rushmore. Please understand there is no bike path along the road (busy) and it is uphill all the way to Mount Rushmore.

 
Ray from Bartlett - NH on 07/31/2021 02:39 PM
Judi,

You have some wonderful riding in your future. I am heading to Custer in 10 days and will work my way home riding in 12 states. Will be starting with the Mickelson and then heading east to Heartland, Paul Bunyan, Central Lakes, Lake Wobegon, Root River, Bike 4 in Wisconsin, Fox River, Tunnel Hill, Nickle Plate, Cardinal Greenway, Little Miami,
Pine Creek, D&L, D&R, Hudson Valley/Dutchess/Maybrook, Farmington Canal, Central Massachusetts, and finishing with the Presidential Rail Trail. Nice to be back on trails after last year.

 
Brigitte from Cooperstown NY on 09/07/2021 06:39 AM
Hi, My husband and I are a week away from our self guided bike/hike trip. We will leave Cooperstown, drive to Madison, Wi for 3 days to bike and hike...on to Egan, MN to bike for a few days... A stop over in ND to hike the Roosevelt Park, and then the remainder of trip (7 days) split between Spearfish Canyon Lodge and Rapid City, to explore the Mickelson Trail, Badlands, Devils tower etc. We are in fairly good shape (60-70 years of age) and would like to ride 20-35 miles but hoping to do loops if possible. Obviously on the Mickelson Trail, a loop will not be possible but any thoughts on maybe 2 or 3 sections of the trail that are the most scenic that we might do an out and back and stay within the 25-35 mile range? Thank you so much, hopefully we meet up with some of you :)

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Water at Trailheads?
 - 
CT from Denver on 09/03/2021 08:19 AM
I'm looking at doing Edgemont to Deadwood in one shot. Is water still available at the trailheads with COVID? If so, this will make it a lot easier to keep hydrated this weekend.

 
Amy from Spearfish on 09/03/2021 09:05 AM
Yes! There's still water. Also, there's a well at the Dumont Trailhead across the road from the trail. The maps don't show that, but it's a handy one to know about since Dumont is at the top of a super-long hill. Sheep Canyon also has a well. I rode the bottom third of the trail last weekend without even touching my second water bottle.

 
Amy from Spearfish on 09/03/2021 09:06 AM
Yes! There's still water. Also, there's a well at the Dumont Trailhead across the road from the trail. The maps don't show that, but it's a handy one to know about since Dumont is at the top of a super-long hill. Sheep Canyon also has a well. I rode the bottom third of the trail last weekend without even touching my second water bottle.

 
PJN from Overland Park, KS on 09/05/2021 05:27 AM
Trail head water pumps were working on 8/29 all along the trail

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