|I'm running several days behind in posting. Sorry about that! But oh my, have we ever been busy.
Wednesday we were fortunate enough to take the trolley ride on the George S. Mickelson trail. The Mickelson Trail was originally the Burlington Northern rail line that took trains from Edgemont to Deadwood, directly through the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota. The line was abandoned in 1983. A group of outdoor enthusiasts recognized the trail’s potential, and with support from then-Governor George S. Mickelson, it became the state’s first rails to trails project. The first 6 miles of the trail were dedicated in 1991. After many years of hard work, and collaboration between the US Forest Service, South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department, the National Guard, the South Dakota Department of Transportation, the South Dakota Department of Corrections, and the local Friends of the Mickelson Trail, the trail was completed in 1998.
This 109 mile mostly-gravel trail is wonderfully maintained, with 15 trail heads. The trail incorporates nearly 100 converted railroad bridges and 4 tunnels, and much of it traverses national forest. Each trail head is equipped with a small shelter, picnic tables, a vault toilet, some bike racks, a well with drinking water, maps and directions, and a parking area. A $3 per person permit is required for use of the trail. Along the trail we encountered tunnels, bridges, nice rock outcrops and lakes, a creek and a couple of towns, some quite historic.
The trail is easily accessible and there for nearly anyone to use. Other than the few scheduled handicapped trolley rides, the rail is only open to bikers, walkers, and horseback riders. No motorized vehicles making it a great way for hikers and bikers to safely explore a portion of the Black Hills. The trolley is narrated and our buddies Brad & Bonnie Exton were on board for this trip. Brad did the narration and he and Bonnie provided some 'rail songs' and a bit of cowboy music too. Made for a great ride. Anyway, I think this trail is a gem and definitely worth a visit if you are in the area!
PS There is a short video clip today if your internet speed allows. Enjoy!