Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Mickelson Trail

It has been a couple of weeks since I have been back from our little group ride down The Mickelson Trail in South Dakota. I wanted to digest it all before writing up this ride report plus it seems that when you leave town for a week you must pay with busy times ahead!!
This trip was started during last summer's KATY trail ride. We all were ready to try something new and this trail was close enough for everybody to get to and there was an appeal to give it a go. Our friend from our group, Richard Welch rode the organized ride here in September and his recommendation of the trail sealed the deal.


After a day of driving we all met at our campground in Deadwood for the big reunion. Camp was set up and we headed downtown and found a joint for a hamburger, beer and a little sports on TV.
 Nice camping spots with grassy area to put tents on plus we were up the hill by ourselves.
Next morning we split up with Kyle and I driving up to our finish point and riding back to the group so we can shuttle vehicles and people along the way. Rob and Kelley, Teesie, Janiece, Gary and Ruth rode up the long hill out of Deadwood, Kyle and I the long hill out of Rochford. We planned on meeting on the hill top of both hills just above the trailhead comfort station at Dumont.
This first day really set the tone for me how much different this riding would be than the Rails to Trails riding of the KATY. KATY is very flat with some occasional grades up or down. Mickelson turned out to hardly have any flat to it. You seemed to always be grinding up a long grade, or coasting down the back side for many miles. On KATY there just was not any coasting to be enjoyed, it was easy but you pedaled almost every mile of that trail.
Here we go heading out of Rochford.
The surface was great riding. Not as Limestoney as KATY but very ride-able. I switched Ogre over to my 2.3 knobby off road tires but my 1.9 smooth roadie commuter tire would have been just fine. Maybe if it would have been rainy I would need the bigger tire because this trail looked like it could be muddy if it had those conditions. But we had great weather for all our days, dry, not that hot and not windy until the last day.
You guys know how much I enjoy the cuts through the rocks. I can let my imagination run and really see the trains chugging through these cuts.

First tunnel of the trip. They sure have done a great job rebuilding these tunnels with beautiful doug fir beams for the entrances and interior roofs and the screening to keep rock falls off the cyclists and trail.

The trail opened up to some mountain ranch land after this. Some of the happiest cows on the planet get to live here.

Not sure if this is an old root cellar or mine entrance. There were informative signs posted along the trail. For some reason I did not get a picture of the building that had used 55 gal drum lids for the siding.
 This Blackbird posed nicely for me. They have a wonderful and distinct song
The sides of this old building gave out before the roof trusses
There were some of these gates across the trail to control livestock on this open range. This one was just over the hill top and we set up for a snack and waited to meet the group. I also saw the first snake of the trip!!

It was blooming time for these purple flowers. They were everywhere!!
Back down the trail to Rochford we all go.Through another cut.
Rolled back to Rochford and then headed over to the Moonshine Gulch Saloon for a beer and burger. It was.......unique. All the trip reports that you read about Mickelson trail riding report on stopping here. It is Betsy's joint and today she was running on her own. taking the orders, serving up the beers and then back in the back cooking up the burgers. All sorts of crap being hoarded in the building with hats and dollar bills and business cards and bra's hanging from the ceilings and walls. My favorite was a little poem on a sign in the men's room next to the paper towels, " Why use two, when one will do". We were not in a hurry and the burger was fine and, yes, Richard Welch, the beer was cold!!! We had a good laugh about the experience and one of those moments that we will all laugh about in the future!!
We drove the vehicles back up the hill to Dumont where Janiece offered to drive my truck back to Deadwood and Kyle, myself, Rob and Kelley wanted to roll the downhill back to Deadwood. Very fun ride!! A lot of coasting at 20 mph with zero pedaling or work. Dream cycling!!
One of the best parts of these trips is finding a post ride shower and then just hanging out, enjoying the company of your friends!!
I was going to put the whole trip on one post but this got a little long so I'll end this and start anew tomorrow!!


  1. Great post! While this trail isn't as long as the Katy, I liked it much better for all the reasons you mentioned. The ups were long, but so were the downs ..... Looks like a beutiful time for your trip. Can't wait for the rest of your posts.

  2. Looks like a fun trip Jim, great scenery and weather and good riding buddies. One of my "bucket list" rides is the John Wayne trail which starts up outside Seattle and includes the 2 mile Snoqualmie tunnel also an old rail line. Your post reminds me I need to get around to that ride and I won't have to drive a day to start ;-)

  3. Americans and bicycles.......I'm still not completely used to that sight. But I have to believe, I know now. And these old Railway tracks rebuilt into bike tracks.....great and astonishing.