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Reply to Getting to Mount Rushmore From the Mickelson Trail

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Reply to Getting to Mount Rushmore From the Mickelson Trail
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Dave from Sacramento, CA on 4/14/2024 6:56:31 PM:
I apologize if this has been covered elsewhere in the forum, but I couldn't find anything about it:

Is there a trail that takes you from the Mickelson Trail to Mount Rushmore?

If so, where is it.

If not, is there a recommended way to get to Mount Rushmore from Mickelson Trail by bicycle (or by foot, if necessary)?

Thanks in advance for any assistance you can provide.

I have done the Cowboy Trail in Nebraska and the Katy Trail in Missouri, and your websites for those trails were super helpful. Thank you for providing all of this information, including the forums that are very helpful when there are trail closures, and for fielding questions from people like me.

Bill from Springfield, IL on 4/14/2024 8:53:46 PM:
You'll probably get better information from the locals, but this is my two cents:

There are no "trails" as such to get from the Mickelson Trail to Mt. Rushmore. There are 3 highways and all will originate from Hill City as the Mickelson goes right through downtown HC.
1. You can go north on US 385 out of Hill City to US 16 over to Keystone and then 3 miles south on SD 244 to Mount Rushmore. 14 miles. Lots of cars in the summer and many like to go fast. I see bikers doing it every time I'm there, but I wouldn't.
2. You can go south on US 385 to SD 244 into Mount Rushmore. About 14 miles also. Lots of traffic going to and returning from Mount Rushmore. Not a road I would feel safe on.
3. You can bike or hike Old Hill City Road out of Hill City. About 10 miles to Keystone and 3.5 more (uphill grade) to Mount Rushmore. Traffic not too bad until you get to Keystone. 1.5 hours on a bike maybe 5-6 hiking that road. If I was determined to bike or hike, Old Hill City Road is really the only route I would consider.

You could also consider a local taxi to take you to Mt. Rushmore, explore the entire day, and then taxi back. Not cheap, but something to consider. As I said, locals will probably give you a lot better information than I can give you based upon my many trips to the area. But most likely Hill City will be your starting point.

By the way, I lived in Sacramento 2006-2009 on a work assignment. Loved Sacramento. Rode the Jedediah Smith Memorial trail along the American River several times each week from downtown 32 miles to Folsom Prison and it was one of my all-time favorite trails. Reading the reviews at ALLTRAiLS.com, it seems like it's not a safe place to ride 15 years later. Homeless encampments, drug use, and lots of trash along the river. Is that true? I hope that's an exaggeration as I was looking forward to taking our bikes on our next trip to San Fran and Sacramento. Thanks.

Dave from Sacramento, CA on 4/15/2024 1:27:02 AM:
Thank you for the detailed answer! I definitely don't want to ride on roads that are sketchy, vehicle-wise, so I appreciate your focus on staying off the busy roads as much as possible. I'm traveling all the way from Sacramento just to be able to ride a long trail without having to deal with cars, so you know where I stand on this issue!

I have been to Mount Rushmore a few times by car, and spent a lot of time in the visitor center, watching the lighting ceremony, and all of that kind of thing, so my main goal this year is to try to reach it by bicycle, just for the sake of it.

After doing an up-and-back on the Mickelson, I will return home for short layover before heading to North Dakota for the CANDAK -- a totally different experience from a solo trail ride, but a lot of fun.

Regarding the American River Bike Trail, I still ride it all the time, and I think it is safe if you exercise a normal amount of caution and ride during daylight hours. There are homeless encampments near the beginning of the trail at Discovery Park, but after a few miles it is okay. There are a lot of rangers patrolling the trail, and a lot of other cyclists, joggers and hikers around.

Part of the American River trail was underwater a few weeks ago, as Discovery Park basically turned into a giant lake due to some major storms, but it was back to being ridable last weekend. There are some detour areas near Cal Expo and Sac State University where they have been repaving the trail, but they are well-marked and the detour route is only about 20 feet away from the trail itself, so it's not a big deal. When the weather is nice and I'm getting ready for a big ride, my favorite route is to ride from my house to Folsom Lake and back, which is an 85-mile round trip. I usually stuff my jersey pockets with enough food to take a decent lunch break in the picnic area by the lake, then enjoy a few miles of descending after lunch.

If you are going to San Francisco, I advise caution. Mostly, don't leave anything in your vehicle, because the area is plagued with thieves, and cars get broken into at an alarming rate. In the Oakland area, there have even been smash-and-grab vehicle robberies while people are stopping at a traffic signal, or in line for fast food. It is out of control. I have only ridden there a couple times, and it was in a year that started with "198," so I don't have any useful information about the actual cycling part.

Thanks again for your answer.

Bill from Springfield, IL on 4/15/2024 7:23:57 AM:
Enjoy your trips Dave! Thanks for the updates on the American River Trail. Such a fun ride up to Folsom Lake and back. I know SF/Oak is something we really need to think about. I've always wanted to ride across the Golden Gate Bridge but we might need to cross that off our list.

I've never heard of CaNDak. I found this link. https://candak.net/about. That sounds REALLY interesting. May have to put that on the future list for sure. We're planning a bikepacking tour on the 142-mile Maah Daah Hey Trail in North Dakota's Theodore Roosevelt National Park this summer. Thanks again and stay safe.

Dave from Sacramento on 4/16/2024 2:22:46 PM:
I rode across the Golden Gate Bridge about 38 years ago, and it was spectacular. Lots of people walking, jogging and riding, but it really is a one-of-a-kind experience.

While I stand by my comments about the vehicle break-ins being a big problem and the need to exercise caution in the area, I would recommend researching your options and finding a way to ride across the bridge. There is a fort below the bridge that is a great place to visit, too. Just don't let any of your belongings out of your sight.

Dave from Sacramento, CA on 4/25/2024 12:54:50 AM:
Bill, the Old City Road route is going to be my Plan A based on your description, plus Google satellite maps and some videos of the busier highways that I found on YouTube.

It also looks like there is a trail called the Centennial Trail that might provide a shortcut away from traffic, but I have to do more research on that. In all honesty, it might just be a situation where I get there and can make a determination whether or not it seems like a good idea. If not, I just stay on Old City Road.

There aren't that many roads, I will have my Wahoo and phone, and I will never be more than 14 miles away from the hotel that I booked in Hill City, so I'm feeling confident. I decided to stay an extra night in Hill City to allow for a full day to visit Mt. Rushmore before getting back on the Mickelson Trail. Since they have bike lockers at Rushmore, I can walk around and grab a bite in the cafeteria (which I remember being pretty good) and enjoy the day.

Thanks again for your help. I will post something when I return to advise how it went, and hopefully help the next person who has this question (one that I thought would be covered extensively, but clearly isn't).

Bill from Springfield, IL on 4/25/2024 6:18:24 AM:
Good luck and stay safe. Let me know how your plan worked out for you. Might want to try that myself in the future.