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Find the top rated atv trails in Rapid City, whether you're looking for an easy short atv trail or a long atv trail, you'll find what you're looking for. Click on a atv trail below to find trail descriptions, trail maps, photos, and reviews.
We were Mickelson Trail newbies and planned our trip based on reviews we read here. We did the 108 miles from Deadwood to Edgemont in 2 days the last week of September to experience the fall colors. It did not disappoint!! Gorgeous and trail excellent. We parked in Edgemont at the park and shuttled (Black Hills Discovery Tours. Great service. $158 2 people, 2 bikes) to Deadwood. Stayed at Cedarwood Inn (nice, clean, quiet, close to trail). Dinner at Jacob’s Brewery (nice ambiance, food ok). Breakfast next morning at Six Strings (not great). Headed down the trail (purchased pass at trailhead $8 cash per person), 16 miles gentle uphill, then mostly downhill to Hill City. Stayed at Quality Inn right on the trail and dinner at Alpine Inn (food pretty good and beer great after a long ride). Next morning off to Custer, stopped to check out Crazy Horse Monument (definitely worthwhile) then tackled the last stretch down to Edgemont. What I would do differently next time: bring a different bike!! Mountain bike (too heavy and not necessary), hubby was on a road bike with 28 tires which worked fine. There were soft spots on the trail but mostly hard pack with sand. Ideally a gravel grinder or ebike would be best. I would do it in 3 days. Park in Hill City, shuttle to Deadwood, ride Deadwood to Hill City first day. Make the second day easier with a ride to Custer. Third day ride Custer to Mt. Rushmore and back to Hill City. I would skip Custer to Edgemont. Although it’s mostly downhill, I felt I’d seen the best of the scenery and was really over it the last 37 miles from Pringle back to Edgemont.
We're in our 60's and accustomed to flatland rail trails with road bikes. So we asked around the Black Hills and got recommendations for the best scenery and trail variety. The Mystic area seemed to be the universal response. So early one cool mid-July morning (after an overnight thunderstorm) we parked the car at Mystic trailhead and headed south toward Hill City, up a steady grade about 3 miles, mostly with good trail gravel pavement. The trail followed a high cliff, past old gold mine placer deposits, wandered through woods, then a tunnel. Great views of the Black Hills. Then back to the car for a snack, then we headed north 5 miles on the trail through some beautiful scenery, some cabin neighborhoods, numerous bridges across creeks, even near a small waterfall. We rode to where the trail crosses Mystic Road then back to the car. This was a great experience for us. We would do more miles there if we had more time. Please note that in the Mystic area there are no services or stores. Pack accordingly.
I rode the Mickelson trail in mid August, while Custer’s and Hill City’s main streets were filled with motorcycles. The ride lived up to my expectations. It was well cared for and very scenic. The grades are a little steeper than other rail trails but that means you can actually coast on the downhills. Of all the trails I’ve ridden the Mickelson remains my favorite.
My husband and I rode the trail and loved it. Our favorite part was Hill City north to Deadwood. There are 4 tunnels and the scenery is beautiful. We had to dodge a few cows in the open range area. The trail was nicely marked and most rest stops had water and toilet. We were here in mid-September 2021, the weather was perfect and the crowds were nothing. It is dry, they need rain so is was dusty.
Downtown construction on Omaha Street, partial closure. Can get around it, by following deteor signs
I'm a local and do a lot of hiking in the area. This trail was a great experience. I had a 7 yo and a 13 yo on this hike. It was a beautiful sunny day in early November. Not sure I would do this if there was any chance of rain or snow. We took our time and just enjoyed the experience. My favorite part was experiencing the changes in the terrain. I especially liked the part where you could see the rock had to be blasted away for the train to pass through when it was in operation. Strongly advise you start at the top by the dog park and (if you can) have someone drop you off and pick you up near the start of the Mickelson Trail. I would not want to hike this trail from Deadwood (ALL uphill!). Take some time and stop along the way to enjoy the views. Definitely use the restroom before you set out as there are no facilities along the way. :)
My brother (70 years old) and I (63 years old) rode this trail in mid September. We spent Friday night at the Cowboy Inn in Edgemont, and got a shuttle to Deadwood. Hit the trail at 10:30 a.m. My brother has a trike with pedal assist and I have a dual sport bike (no assist for me). The first few miles south were really tough for me. I knew it would be uphill, but some reviewers said you could hardly tell it was uphill. Well, they must have been in a lot better shape then me. I really think that the altitude affected me more then I realized it would. Once I made it up that first few miles of uphill the ride was really good, until I hit the up hill climb near Mystic. The last few miles downhill into Hill City was very pleasant. Although I was tired at the end of the first day, it was a great ride, the scenery was wonderful. I loved the tunnels and all the bridges. After a couple beers at the Mangy Moose, and a good nights rest, I was ready to tackle the second day.
The uphill climb out of Hill City was long but doable, and I looked forward to the remaining downhill stretch into Edgemont. A stop at Pringle to see the mountains of old bikes was interesting. the rest of the trip was scenic, but in a different way then the first day. we did seem to have a head wind that slowed my progress, but I'm used to riding in the wind. The Hat Creek Grill and Bar in Edgemont was a welcome sight.
Over all the trail was in good shape, there were places where the gravel was a little loose, but nor bad. The 62.6 miles on the second day was my longest ride ever, although I have put on several 50 mile rides. I would love to do this again, but I will train a little better and maybe arrive a day early to acclimate to the altitude.
A Great trail that I would love to do again.
Biked from Custer State Park to the main trail. Nice wide asphalt surface for biking. Trail runs along the highway. There are a couple of climbs but both fairly short.
We rode the entire trail in 3 sections: Custer to Edgemont, Custer to Rocheford, then Rocheford to Deadwoood. The trail is even more amazing than we imagined. The terrain varies from high desert to forested hills and streams. Well maintained with multiple rest stops inc. toilets and water. Maps & trail passes available along the way. It is not just a trail but an opportunity to see the Black Hills in all its' splendor & beauty. The animals we saw along the trail were deer, snake, cattle, & birds. Some sections would be difficult to ride with narrow road tires as some sections of the gravel trail were quite loose. We have cross tires.
We stayed at the Mile Hi Motel in Custer. The owners were wonderful! Eric helped shuttle us to/from trail heads with only a gratuity needed. The motel is only a block from the trail.
My new wife and I spent part of our honeymoon doing a complete round trip leisurely ride on this trail. We stopped tons of time for photos, snacks, deer, and had a most excellent time. Unlike some who ride and seem to do the entire trail as fast as possible, we took our sweet time and enjoyed everything the trail had to offer.
Prior to day 1 on the trail we stayed at the Cowboy Inn in Edgemont, and started our 3 day ride north to Deadwood around 8 AM the following morning. I am a bit of a 'planner', so we knew about the 1st day being all uphill. Most rail trails are pretty flat, and really so is this trail, but this trail is just a smidge more up and down hills. They say no more than 4% grade, which is easy enough, but it is uphill for like nearly the entire way, and that can wear you down over time. Find a comfortable pace, and you'll be fine tho. As we rode north we saw more deer than i can remember. The views were more hilly and prairie/valley than mountainous. Beautiful, but more rolling than hilly. The trailheads all had pretty nice bathrooms, and sheltered areas with water available. We found out that the Hitchrail bar in Pringle was normally closed on Mondays, but they had a local thing happening, so invited us in for food/drinks anyway. The people there are super nice. Actually everyone we encountered in all towns along the trail were super nice. They gave us meatballs, french fries, an couple beers, and time to sit and rest a bit. They were great people. We then headed north a bit more to our first night just north of Pringle.
The next morning we leisurely rode towards our next nightly stop in Hill City. We spent a while in Custer, firstly at Horatio's Homemade Ice Cream, right on main street, AWESOME homemade ice cream and waffle cones! Lost of touristy shops, markets, and street art to check out here. about 6 miles north of Hill City you can see Crazy Horse memorial. While you can see it, you are not very close. You can hop up on the road from the trail, and ride to it tho if you want tho. and geography that was starting to look more like short mtns rather than rolling hills and valleys, so the rest of the ride this day was more deer, slightly steeper trail sections, (still not hard tho...but long). We spent the night just outside of Hill City tonight.
The next morning/trail day 3, we rode about 50 miles to Deadwood, the northern endpoint on the trail. The trail started to really get more 'mountiany' looking at this point, with vistas, long bendy creeks, and also steeper trails...both up and down. About 25 miles north of Hill City is a tiny town of Rochford. Everyone said to eat lunch there at the Moonshine Gulch Saloon, but currently they are closed on the weekdays so we could not. Luckily, there is a "small of America" souvenir shop/snack place right next door. We got 2 beers, a yummy pizza, a t shirt, and then a couple sodas and took a nice long lunch. To get to downtown Rochford (less than 1 block long) get off on the Rochford trailhead, then ride the city street for a few hundred feet. You can't miss it. This northern half of the trail is where the tunnels are also, which are super cool. 4 of them. More rest stops to. The bathrooms only seem to be at the main Trailheads on this trail, but there are sheltered picnic areas roughly every 10 miles thru ought the entirety of the Mickelson, so you are never too far from a break. We spent a lot of time today riding uphill, but the last several miles into Deadwood were a nice downhill ride.
We spent a day in Deadwood relaxing, off the bikes and sightseeing. On the way back, we took another 3 days to make the trip, but stayed in different locations.
Some things to remember i suppose, are that the southern half of the trail has more uphill than downhill, and has less of the 'black hills' hilly look than the northern half, so the trail is a bit less steep going up or down. We saw more deer on the southern half, but more cows and bulls loos on the trail in the northern half, as well and deer turkey, and even a coyote on the trail up north. We were surprised by the lack of colorful birds in the area, but an abundance of Birch trees up in the hills. (with all the pine trees of course). Water was available at every trail head, along with bathrooms (fancy outhouses, but nice). There is no bike shop in Deadwood. Closest one is 10 miles further north, in Spearfish. The southern part of the trail seems to be looser gravel than the northern section.
We had a slow paced super fun week, but yes, travel light and if you don't stop for all the things the trail has to offer and you can go faster. GREAT trail maps are available at all trailheads, that show mileage, elevation and more to each stop along the trail....all the trailheads and the rest stops also.
Day 1 - I spent the night in Edgemont (Cowboy Inn), then rode to Hill City. This 60 mile stretch is not for the faint of heart. It's a slow, relentless grind for the first 50 miles, then 10 miles downhill into Deadwood. I read lots and lots of posts trying to determine if people actually ride the entire distance going South to North, but couldn't find anyone that posted about it. Given the lack of info, the uphill grade and the gravel terrain, I decided it would be safest if I broke the North bound ride into two days. And honestly, I'm glad I did. I was on a steel Surly single speed, riding solo and carrying two panniers. I could have carried on to Deadwood if I had to, but I'm honestly glad I had a hotel reservation in Hill City (Super 8). NOTE - I did stop (just outside of Hill City) to help two riders in their early 20s that were planning to ride the entire distance from Edgemont to Deadwood, after having to stop in Rochford due to darkness two weeks earlier. Assuming they didn't have any additional mechanical issues, I'd bet they made it since there were no thunderstorms that afternoon. They started, in the dark, in Edgemont at 5am.
On Day 2, I rode from Hill City to Deadwood and over-nighted at the Spring Hill Suites. Comparatively, the terrain on Day 1 and the terrain on Day 2 were completely different. From Edgemont to Hill City, the terrain was open, exposed and occasionally forested. From Hill City to Deadwood, the terrain was almost completely forested and incredibly beautiful. If you only have time to do one section of the trail, I'd unequivocally recommend the section between Hill City and Deadwood (ridden in either direction).
On Day 3, I rode all the way from Deadwood to Edgemont, stopping in Hill City for a burger with fries on the rooftop patio at the Bumpin Buffalo Bar & Grill. If you're capable of riding a century on a road bike, riding the entire distance is very doable because of the net elevation loss and the final 50 miles of downhill into Edgemont. Be warned though... the South Dakota wind popped up and sometimes negated the joy of rolling downhill between Crazy Horse and Edgemont.
We rode Hill City to Dumont one day and HillCity to Custer another with the Stockade Lake Spur. Beautiful sights. We chose to ride the fat tire bikes - a mistake on this trail. Inclined were tough with the wide tires.
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