The George S. Mickelson Trail is a 109-mile biking, hiking, and horseback trail that was once a “Rails to Trails” project. The trail travels between Deadwood in the north and Edgemont in the south. There is a daily usage fee of $3 or an annual fee of $10 to use the trail, payable by drop-off envelope at any trailhead.
There are three trailheads near Lead. The Kirk Trailhead is located a half-mile south of Lead on Route 85; the Lead Trailhead is a 0.8-mile spur that starts in town off of Hearst Avenue (across from the High School); and the Sugarloaf Trailhead is one mile southwest of Lead on Route 85. All of the trailheads are well marked.
There are no bike rental locations in the Northern Hills, so bring bikes with you or plan on renting bikes in Rapid City (Two Wheeler Dealer, 605/343-0524) or Hill City (Mickelson Trail Adventures, 605/574-4094, or Rabbit Bike, 605/574-4302).
There are more than 350 miles of groomed trails dedicated to snowmobiles in the Northern Hills. Snow season generally runs from December to March. Three trails (Trail #7, Trail #5, and Trail #4) are easily accessible from Lead. The Golden Reward parking lot for Trail #5 is located four miles southwest of Lead on Highway 85 and five miles south on Rochford Road.
One mile farther down the road, the Dumont parking area for Trail #7 is located six miles south on Rochford Road. The parking lot for Trail #4 is in Spearfish Canyon, just west of the Spearfish Canyon Lodge at Savoy.
Weather in the hills is unpredictable. For trail conditions, call 800/445-3474. Information about the trails can be obtained from South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks (605/773-3391) and printable trail maps can be obtained at www.sdgfp.info.
Snowmobiles can be rented at Mad Mountain Adventures (five miles south of Lead on Hwy. 385, 605/578-1878, www.madmountainadventures.com, $100–160).
© Laural A. Bidwell from Moon Mount Rushmore & the Black Hills, 1st Edition