– By #Powder House Lodge
The Powder House is located near a favorite recreational spot for locals and visitors alike, The George S. Mickelson Trail. This popular trail spans 109 miles from Deadwood in the north to Edgemont in the southwest. This Rails to Trails project honors late South Dakota Governor, George S. Mickelson, and offers a scenic tour of South Western South Dakota. The trail showcases the full range of beauty and diversity the Black Hills National Forest has to offer. From aspen groves and tower pines, to rock faces and creek lined valley floors. It is not unusual to spot wildlife while on the trail and visitors will delight in the ever changing scenery.
The Mickelson Trail is popular to cyclists, trail riders and runners alike. In fact, each summer thousands of marathoners visit the trail for the annual Mickelson Trail Marathon, which celebrates its’ 15th anniversary on June 5 this year.
Many guests to the Powder House take advantage of the Mickelson Trail, while looking to get a little bit of exercise during their visit. The trail is well maintained, roughly 10 feet wide and finished with a surface made primarily of crushed limestone and gravel. Visitors can access the trail from 15 trailheads spanning the length of the trail, all of which offer parking, rest rooms and picnic tables. Visitors to the trail are asked to sign in on the honor system, with self-sale trail pass stations. The trail is popular among outdoor enthusiasts, offering measured distances between trail heads, easy accessibility, and a gentle rolling grade which at max, reaches a grade of four percent Although, some portions of the trail are considered more challenging than others, over all the terrain is scenic and user friendly.
Nearly all of the trail follows the route of an abandoned railroad branch line constructed by the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad in 1890-91 and last operated by the Burlington Northern Railroad in 1983. Because of this many of the original railroad trestles, roughly 100 of them, are still in place. All the trusses as well as four hard rock tunnels, blasted long ago through hillsides have been restored. The Trail is perfect for biking, horseback riding, and in the winter, cross country skiing. The 35 interpretive signs along the trail offer insight to the history of early life in the Black Hills. Each sign points out things such as, old cabins, abandoned mines and ghost towns as well as scenic vistas. This trail offers the perfect opportunity to get away from it all, while remaining close to home. Although the trail runs for over 100 miles, towns dot the way and highways run parallel to the route, so you are never far from civilization.
Rules of the Trail
- Dogs must be leashed.
- Motorized vehicles are not allowed.
- Smoking is prohibited.
- Discharging a firearm from or across the trail is not allowed. The trail is closed from dusk to dawn.
- Bicyclists must yield to pedestrians.
- Horses have the ultimate right-of-way.