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Cycling

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     Cross-country:
About 15 of the marked trails in the Black Hills National Forest are open to cross-country cyclists. The longest is the 110-mile George S. Mickelson Trail which follows the historic rail lines that once linked the gold-mining and logging camps in the central Black Hills. This trail has a maximum 3 percent grade and a hard-packed gravel surface for the most part.
 

     Users of the Mickelson trail are required to have a trail pass. An annual pass costs $10 and a one-day pass is $2. (2006 rates)

     In addition to the marked trails, nearly all of the 6,000 miles of Black Hills National Forest roads and fire trails are open to cyclists. Many of these roads are barely maintained but they make an exciting ride for mountain bike enthusiasts. One of our favorites is the old mining road to the ghost town of Otho just east of Keystone.
 
     Touring: If paved roads are more to your liking, County Road 323 between Keystone and Hill City -- which closely follows the route of the 1880 Train -- is one of the best rides around. Except for the fact that the railroad tracks cross the road 17 times, the route is excellent.
 

     The most popular touring routes include the Rapid City to Mt. Rushmore Ride, the Needles Highway, Iron Mountain Road, Spearfish Canyon and the Badlands Loop Road. Most of these roads have either wide shoulders or very low speed limits. While most of these routes also include some long climbs (or would you say steep grades?) the scenery is worth the effort. The Wildlife Loop road in Custer State Park is not recommended for cyclists because of the danger posed by Buffalo.

     Short Rides: If you are just a Sunday rider or you have small children, try some of the 13-mile Rapid City Bikeway along Rapid Creek. The bikeway starts at the State Fish Hatchery, just west of Canyon Lake, and ends at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technoloy. Sites near the trail include the Chapel in the Hills, Storybook Island, Dinosaur Park, Dahl Fine Arts Center, Rushmore Plaza Civic Center and Journey Museum. There are also several parks along the way that offer picnic opportunities.

     Information about cycling in Custer State Park can be found on the  Custer State Park Biking Guide. Trail information about the Black Hills National Forest Trails can be found at the
Great Outdoor Reacreation Page on South Dakota. For information about the Mickelson Trail check  the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks Mickelson Trail Page. General information about cycling in the Black Hills can be found at http://www.trails.com/.

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 Update 9/18/06
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