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Saturday, September 2, 2017

Sugarloaf Loop (George S. Mickelson Trail) - South Dakota Rail Trail

I was vacationing near Lead, South Dakota, and headed out for a run on the Mickelson Trail.

Kirk Road Trail head!  
This particular part is a loop up and down a really big hill.  It's a rail trail so it's theoretically not too steep - but we later went on a 1880's steam train, and they explained these were some of the most severe rail grades around.

Rough Map - I started at the Kirk Road trailhead

The trail - near top of mountain

The George S. Mickelson Trail is 175km long!  So I barely scratched the surface here - and it was amazing.

The trail was really nice - gravel, firm surface, very suitable for trail running and biking.  I really wish I had my cyclocross bike with me!  Someday I'll come back and experience the rest of it.  The Black Hills area is just so beautiful - hills, wildlife, and a really cool sub-culture Wild West feel.

A trestle

View from the top of Lead, SD

Elevation (Counter-Clockwise, Starting @ Kirk)
One of about 20 deer I saw - most scurried off, this one was nice enough to pose
1880 Steam Train
1880s steam train you can take from Hill City to Keystone.
We did.  It was awesome.
If you're a rail buff... this is a must-do.  It's an 1880's steam train that runs on similar tracks to the one the rail trail follows.  2 hour journey, it's just an impressive piece of business.

I've always pictured in my head what it must have looked like when these trains occupied the rail trails - this brought that to life.  The train struggled up those same kinds of grades I did!  And screeched as it braked down the other side... all just awesome.

Book early though - it sells out!!!

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