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Black Hills....Mickelson Trail ?

Old 04-25-15, 11:58 AM
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Black Hills....Mickelson Trail ?

As much as I love riding in WI and MN, sometimes a guy needs a change of scenery.

A week of biking, hiking, and trout fishing in the Black Hills ought to do it


Just one question. I don't like riding on trails very much but I'm wondering if there is a don't miss section of the Mickelson trail that I should ride despite that.

I'm good for 60-70 miles a day in the saddle

thanks
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Old 04-25-15, 01:43 PM
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I can't think of any section that was that special to see. Try to avoid going during the motorcycle rally in Sturgis. A few months ago someone was asking about the trail on this forum, you could check out that other link.

http://www.bikeforums.net/touring/99...ce-anyone.html
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Old 04-25-15, 01:58 PM
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I kinda figure that, but I thought I would ask anyway.

Leaving Monday with the LHT in tow :-)
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Old 04-25-15, 02:26 PM
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The south end, from Edgemont or Minnekahta Junction to Pringle, is different from the rest. There is prairie and rock canyons. It seems like a lot of people never both to ride that part, which is too bad. From Custer north, it is mostly pine forest all the way to Deadwood.
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Old 04-25-15, 05:26 PM
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Slow down and smell those infernal roses. Do some research. There's a reason it's named Mickleson. It is what it is.

I'm not a great fan of trails either, but did enjoy this one. Crazyhorse is the 'don't miss' attraction. As long as you're out there, might as well go to Rushmore. For a 'thrill' ride, check out the Needles Highway to Rapid City. (More thrill then I wanted.)

Disclaimer: I did a bus tour from Rapid City via Needles to Rushmore.
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Old 04-27-15, 08:30 AM
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If you have time ride up Spearfish Canyon. It is a nice road alternative to the trail and much safer than Needles Highway. Otherwise as others have mentioned the northern part of the trail is more green and the valleys are very nice. I hope you have cold weather gear because it can change very fast in that area. The Black Hills are one of my favorite destinations - enjoy!
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Old 04-27-15, 11:05 AM
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Originally Posted by badger_biker View Post
If you have time ride up Spearfish Canyon. It is a nice road alternative to the trail and much safer than Needles Highway. Otherwise as others have mentioned the northern part of the trail is more green and the valleys are very nice. I hope you have cold weather gear because it can change very fast in that area. The Black Hills are one of my favorite destinations - enjoy!
I am flying to RC on June 17th. Riding to Spearfish the first day then riding the canyon the next day then onto the trail at the Engelwood trailhead and staying in Hill City. Plan is to ride the remainder of the trail to Edgemont then head into NW Nebraska for a few days.

Near the end of the trip I plan to stay at Stockcade Lake, a few miles east of Custer, and then take SD 87 to SD 244 to the Mt. Rushmore KOA. SD 87 is the Needles Highway, yes? If so, what is unsafe about it?
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Old 04-27-15, 11:26 AM
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Originally Posted by curlyque View Post
Leaving Monday with the LHT in tow :-)
Pack your Long Johns. Looks like nights are still getting down in the low to mid 30s.

BTW...If you are riding the trail into/out of Custer, north of town it passes right under Avenue of the Chiefs, which is the road that leads to Crazy Horse. On the satellite view on Google Maps you can see the tunnel/underpass. Looks like it would be easy to push a bike up the embankment on the south side the underpass to get to Avenue of the Chiefs. That's what I plan to do when I head out there in June as I am planning to ride most of the trail north to south.
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Old 04-27-15, 12:34 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
I am flying to RC on June 17th. Riding to Spearfish the first day then riding the canyon the next day then onto the trail at the Engelwood trailhead and staying in Hill City. Plan is to ride the remainder of the trail to Edgemont then head into NW Nebraska for a few days.

Near the end of the trip I plan to stay at Stockcade Lake, a few miles east of Custer, and then take SD 87 to SD 244 to the Mt. Rushmore KOA. SD 87 is the Needles Highway, yes? If so, what is unsafe about it?
Needles Highway is beautiful but I have only been on it in an auto. As I recall it has no or very minimal paved shoulders and a lot of hairpin turns with limited visibility for autos to see and react to a cyclist. If you are up for the climbing and can time your ride for early in the day and avoid weekends and traffic it may not be as bad as I envisioned it to bike. Hopefully someone with familiarity with it can chime in and either enforce or disclaim my recollections.

Your timing should be excellent. I went in early June and everything was so nice and green. I would still pack some warm items because we had 2 days of low 40's for highs with 40 mph winds and some light frost at night.
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Old 04-27-15, 01:15 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
... what is unsafe about it?
It has been decades since I was on it, but my recollection is the same as Badger_Biker.

I would add that it was full of RVs with old guys driving them, they tried to make sure they are as close to the middle of the road as possible when I was there. But it is a very beautiful road and since it is so winding, the traffic is not too fast which mitigates some of the risk. If you are quite visible (high vis color jersey, etc.) that would be a good idea. Since the big RVs will be the slowest vehicles on the road, being near them might actually add some safety factor.

Elevation is quite a bit higher than PA, but nothing like in the Rockies. My point is that there is not as much oxygen up there as you might otherwise expect. If you are in shape, you might not even notice it after a few days, but the first few days the hills will probably feel steeper than you otherwise would have expected. If I recall correctly, Harney Peak is the highest point in the northern hemisphere between the Rockies and the Pyrenees, you won't be far from it.

I think I was in my highest gear (52/11) for about 20 consecutive miles into Edgemont. It was a fantastic long steady downhill run. Edgemont is pretty tiny but when I was there about six years ago there was a tiny cafe that fixed up an outstanding chocolate shake for me, and since it was in the 90s that shake tasted so much better.

You are going to have a great time.
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Old 04-27-15, 01:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
It has been decades since I was on it, but my recollection is the same as Badger_Biker.

I would add that it was full of RVs with old guys driving them, they tried to make sure they are as close to the middle of the road as possible when I was there. But it is a very beautiful road and since it is so winding, the traffic is not too fast which mitigates some of the risk. If you are quite visible (high vis color jersey, etc.) that would be a good idea. Since the big RVs will be the slowest vehicles on the road, being near them might actually add some safety factor.

Elevation is quite a bit higher than PA, but nothing like in the Rockies. My point is that there is not as much oxygen up there as you might otherwise expect. If you are in shape, you might not even notice it after a few days, but the first few days the hills will probably feel steeper than you otherwise would have expected. If I recall correctly, Harney Peak is the highest point in the northern hemisphere between the Rockies and the Pyrenees, you won't be far from it.
Thanks. I was touring in MT last year. Got to nearly 7,000' the second day climbing unpaved Gibbons Pass and nearly 8,000' on day 3 after doing a 7,300' pass first thing in that morning.
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Old 04-27-15, 01:52 PM
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Originally Posted by badger_biker View Post
Needles Highway is beautiful but I have only been on it in an auto. As I recall it has no or very minimal paved shoulders and a lot of hairpin turns with limited visibility for autos to see and react to a cyclist. If you are up for the climbing and can time your ride for early in the day and avoid weekends and traffic it may not be as bad as I envisioned it to bike. Hopefully someone with familiarity with it can chime in and either enforce or disclaim my recollections.

Your timing should be excellent. I went in early June and everything was so nice and green. I would still pack some warm items because we had 2 days of low 40's for highs with 40 mph winds and some light frost at night.
I looked at it on Street View and you are correct. There is basically no shoulder, at least early on. I think there may be a shoulder after the junction with SD 89. The timing of the trip has me riding it on a Friday. Assuming I stay at Stockade Lake Campground, I will hit the climbing not long after I start out. I am an early riser so I should get a good deal of climbing in before the RV crowd hits the road. That day will also be s short one, so I won't feel pressure to push too hard.

I definitely plan to pack cold weather gear like I did in Montana last year. During that trip, I actually got rained, sleeted and snowed on coming down from one pass, and it poured a very cold rain coming down from another on the penultimate day of riding. I did catch a mild case of the weight weenie flu just before I left for that trip and decided to leave my warm rain jacket at home. I won't make that mistake this time.
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Old 04-28-15, 04:54 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Looks like it would be easy to push a bike up the embankment on the south side the underpass to get to Avenue of the Chiefs. That's what I plan to do when I head out there in June as I am planning to ride most of the trail north to south.
It is easy.

If you do Needles, we'll need a report.
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Old 05-11-15, 04:50 AM
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How deep is the snow out there?
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Old 05-11-15, 05:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
How deep is the snow out there?

May snow continues to impact Western South Dakota | KOTATV.com Rapid City, Black Hills, So Dak. Gillette Sheridan KOTA Territory News

Glad I am not leaving until June 17th.
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Old 05-11-15, 07:49 AM
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I read yesterday that close to 24" were possible in the BH and thought about this thread and couldn't remember when you were going. Good thing you've got a month yet!
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Old 05-11-15, 12:51 PM
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Originally Posted by badger_biker View Post
Good thing you've got a month yet!
Tell me about it.

Something occurred to me this morning. I have a "no-move" day planned for the Custer area. I am now thinking of riding Needles on that day to the Jct. with SD 89 and then heading back to Custer. That would allow me to do Needles without a full load. Leaving town the following day I would take SD 89 up to SD 87 and ride that down to U.S. 16 then SD 244. Another option is a cutoff road from SD 87 to SD 244 right near the KOA where I will be going.
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Old 05-13-15, 04:32 AM
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Talked to a guy in Custer yesterday while making a reservation. They got 12" of snow in the storm, but it was 50 yesterday and most of it has melted.
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Old 07-07-15, 06:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Cyclebum View Post
It is easy.

If you do Needles, we'll need a report.
Did a loop from Custer that included it:

BH-NEEDLES LOOP - Custer County, SD

Nothing but foul weather gear, and I did it the easier way. Great ride. All but one motorist was courteous. Great scenery. A good number of twists and turns, but very manageable. I think many motorists were more worried than I was.

Photos from the entire trip:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/105349...57655263744881

Trashed the camera the first night. Bought a new one in the morning but didn't get to charge the battery until I reached the top of Spearfish Canyon and Roughloch Falls, so there are no photos from that stretch, which was one of the prettiest.

The Mickelson Trail was tough going in places. Way above average rainfall has caused some damage.
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Old 07-07-15, 08:56 AM
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Wow. Great collections of pics. I need to go back to SD and mess around for a month. I guess it's my favorite state for cycle touring.
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Old 07-07-15, 11:22 AM
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Thanks, but I don't know about a month. I ended up scrubbing the Nebraska portion of the trip. When I reached the end of the Mickelson in Edgemont, I met a family in the municipal campground. They were originally from the south hills area. The grandfather and grandmother now live in Nebraska. 80% of the reason I planned to go into Nebraska was to visit Toadstool Geologic Park. (The other 20% was to be able to say I have toured in Nebraska.) Getting to Toadstool and then to my camping spot west of Crawford would have meant a 64 mile day with no services or shade between Edgemont and Crawford, a distance of 60 miles. More importantly, I would have had about 25 miles of dirt not including the 15 or so miles of state highway that is also unpaved. The grandfather told me that, on a good day, the road to Toadstool is tough. With the flooding they had been having down there, he had serious doubts about being able to get through on a bike due to poor road conditions. I took his advice and bagged it. Took a semi-rest day in Edgemont instead. Rode 8.5 miles towards Nebraska and back and was glad I bagged. Not only would I have had to deal with the potentially bad road, I would have faced a stiff breeze the entire way.
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Old 07-07-15, 12:25 PM
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You missed a beautiful ride between Edgemont and Crawford. Roads were fine. Gravel road 441 was way better condition than Michelson trail.
I went the other way (Crawford to Edgemont). I rode across Nebraska on hwy 2. Sandhills are spectacular. Looks like Ireland .
I do t know about Toadstool. It looked like dirt/gravel . I often take people's advice myself. Better safe than sorry.
Michelson trail was kind of hard to do with all the rain and my 32mm tires. I went south to north. It was really soft but I liked it anyway.
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Old 07-12-15, 03:15 PM
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Originally Posted by badger_biker View Post
If you have time ride up Spearfish Canyon. It is a nice road alternative to the trail and much safer than Needles Highway. Otherwise as others have mentioned the northern part of the trail is more green and the valleys are very nice. I hope you have cold weather gear because it can change very fast in that area. The Black Hills are one of my favorite destinations - enjoy!
I'll second the Spearfish Canyon. I have driven it only, but it is real nice. I'll second the statement about the weather also. Spot on.
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Old 07-13-15, 05:58 AM
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Originally Posted by jonc123 View Post
I'll second the Spearfish Canyon. I have driven it only, but it is real nice. I'll second the statement about the weather also. Spot on.

I did Spearfish Canyon from Spearfish to Savoy, (then continued on to Cheyenne Jct.), with the short climb to Roughloch Falls. and back. One of the prettiest parts of the trip. Shoulder nearly the entire way. Very little traffic on a Friday morning. There were a few logging trucks, but they were heading down. The climb is fairly gradual most of the way. Unfortunately, I trashed my camera the night before. I got a replacement at K Mart that morning but didn't want to wait to charge the battery, so I don't have any photos from the climb. I changed it at the restaurant in Savoy and took this:



These two are from the stretch between Savoy and Cheyenne Jct.:



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