- Find a Trail
- My TrailLink
- Explore Trails
- About Us
- Get Involved
Find the top rated horseback riding trails in South Dakota, whether you're looking for an easy short horseback riding trail or a long horseback riding trail, you'll find what you're looking for. Click on a horseback riding trail below to find trail descriptions, trail maps, photos, and reviews.
|Trail Image||Trail Name||States||Length||Surface||Rating|
Named in honor of the former South Dakota governor who crusaded for the trail before his death in a plane crash in 1993, the George S. Mickelson Trail runs through the heart of the Black Hills,...
|SD||109 mi||Crushed Stone||
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.
This was not a good bike trail. My husband and I rode it today and we rode for about 3-4 miles on a major highway that was very busy. The actual trail was very bumpy and at one point we went through a cemetery to find the trail. It was enjoyable but will not be going back to this trail.
This is such a fun trail. The best parts are around the marina and throughout the camping area by the water. There are some fun ways to cut through and be in amidst the trees away from campers as well. We go here a lot because it’s close to home and we love the scenery. It’s so well paved and maintained nicely! It smells soo good along the water.
This was LONG! We didn’t know how long, lol! We found out! We rode the whole thing. It’s best from Falls Park going towards the older downtown instead of the other way. The rest is fine but can get a bit dull out by the airport if you’re a person who enjoys scenery as you ride, however that’s just me. :)
The ride was flat for the most part and connected the many parks around Sioux Falls. You won’t want to miss it. 20+ miles. It’s a bit tricky to follow in spots near downtown because there are a lot of off-shoots, so it was nice to have a local to follow. Some of the sections could use some horizontal crack fixing (bumpy), but overall a great experience.
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.
If you are in the area on business or pleasure, this trail is worth it. We started at the nice visitor center where there is plenty of parking. The trail is crushed gravel and wide enough for side by side riding. We saw lots of wildlife, including turkeys (over 2 dozen), waterfowl, garter snakes and doe/fawns (still in spots). In addition, the closer you get to the big river, there are a number of old growth cottonwood groves w/ some of the largest cottonwoods we have seen. There are a couple of viewing platforms near the river and the trail has curves and some short hills. Just a nice evening ride. Also, ride in a figure eight to add more miles and see the groves twice!
Started the trail off In deadwood and was completely shocked at how steep of a climb it was. Being that we were more used to flatter rail trails, we ended up driving to a different part of the trail and riding from the Mystic to the Rockford trailhead and back. Don’t let the hill scare you away, just pay close attention to the gradient on the map. The trail surface worked great for our hybrid bikes. Saw beautiful nature and local cows. Lost cell reception at times.
TrailLink is a free service provided by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (a non-profit) and we need your support!