Public invited to discuss potential Rushmore-Mickelson trail connector

If you like hiking and bicycling, it doesn’t get much better than the Black Hills. Now there’s a proposal on the table that could add yet another great route to South Dakota’s hiking and bicycling Mecca.

The proposal calls for a connector route between Mount Rushmore National Memorial and the Mickelson Trail. The Mickelson trail is a 109-mile former railroad line from Deadwood in the northern Black Hills to Edgemont in the southern Black Hills. It is named for the late Gov. George Mickelson, who died in a 1993 plane crash in Iowa. The trail features 14 trailheads, 100 converted railroad bridges and four rock tunnels.

There will be a public open house tomorrow, Nov. 17, in Rapid City to discuss a feasibility study pertaining to the project. Here’s a portion of the news release announcing the open house:

The public workshop is scheduled for 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. MST at the Dahl Fine Arts Center conference room, 713 7th Street, Rapid City. Attendees are invited to ask questions and provide input on the benefits, challenges and issues involved in a proposed trail connecting the regional landmarks.

Additional public comments will be accepted through Nov. 25. The final report is available at Wyss Associates, Inc.; the Rapid City Public Library; and online at www.wyssassociates.com.

The executive summary of the feasibility study, which you can read by clicking here, is generally positive. Here’s an excerpt:

In general, the response to the trail was overwhelmingly positive. People in the area are excited to have an addition to the Mickelson Trail, and most favor a “Family” style trail, available to multiple user types. Some concerns regarding funding, security at Mount Rushmore, grazing allotments in the National Forest and whether the trail will affect specific property owners were received as well. Environmental groups expressed concern for the Norbeck Wildlife Preserve and Black Elk Wilderness as well as specific animal or plant species known to be in the area.

About Author

Seth Tupper

Seth Tupper was born and raised in South Dakota and earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from South Dakota State University in 2001. After college, he worked at a newspaper in Minnesota and then returned to South Dakota in 2003 to join the staff of The Daily Republic in Mitchell, where he is currently the publisher. Seth has won numerous awards for his writing, including the 2007 Outstanding Young Journalist award in the daily newspapers category of the South Dakota Newspaper Association's Better Newspapers Contest. Seth's day-job and freelance work have granted him opportunities to meet hundreds of South Dakotans and travel across much of the state. He also spends a lot of his free time exploring South Dakota's state and national parks, hiking trails and kayak-friendly rivers.

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