A Family Ride: Hill City to Crazy Horse | Black Hills Travel Blog

A Family Ride: Hill City to Crazy Horse

  • A Family Ride: Hill City to Crazy Horse
    A Family Ride: Hill City to Crazy Horse
By : 
Shawna V

It was a gorgeous day on Sunday June 16th, Father"s Day.  After a hearty breakfast, with much anticipation and excitement, we loaded up our bikes, grabbed our gear and the kids and headed to the hills.  Our destination was Burlington Trailhead in Hill City, near the 1880 Train Station.

My husband and I had been to this trailhead before and had ridden our bikes North for several miles towards Mystic.  That was such an amazing experience that we had been itching to get back on Mickelson Trail again and to bring our kids.  The trail was not extremely difficult but had a definite slight uphill grade to it that is slowly draining.

WeeRide Co-Pilot, that attaches to my husbands bike, essentially making it a double bike.  The kids loved their new freedom and shared our excitement. We arrived at the trailhead around  3:00pm.  They have very nice restrooms, drinking fountains and a covered picnic area.  There is also a really wonderful park right behind the picnic area.  They have a large bike rack to lock up bikes or stand your bikes up while you get your gear on and get ready to go. I, as mom, am the designated sunblock applier.  It is not my favorite job and no one else cares much to have it done, but sunburn is not good for anyone.

My husband took care of paying our $3.00 per person (over 12 years old) use fee and got our permits to ride the trail.  We grabbed our Camel Bags, packed with water,  rain ponchos, snacks, more sunblock, some bike tools, and other miscellaneous handy stuff.  Helmets in place, we started our journey South on Mickelson Trail this time. We were detoured due to the repair of 3 different bridges, much to my dismay, as it would have been easy detours for a single rider, but I had to walk my bike with my daughter loaded in the child seat over the rougher terrain.  We were told that the bridges were scheduled to be in full repair by the 18th. Detours out of the way, we slowly ascended the steady yet minimal incline of the trail.  It was a picture perfect day.  We rode past horses running wild on private property, we crossed paths with deer and rabbits, beautiful birds and squirrels.  The children were delighted and wanted to talk to us about all sights they were taking in. The path takes you through a variety of settings ranging from open trail, over numerous bridges, to forest settings, clearings, next to the highway, through tunnels, and areas of gorgeous rock walls, all the while winding around a creek and often having views of the water and the sounds of it rushing along it's way.

We found the landscape to be very peaceful as well as beautiful.  My daughter was so comfortable in her seat that she actually napped part of the way! With blue skies and puffy clouds over head, we traveled on, occasionally passing more cyclists heading the opposite direction.  We made a short stop at Oreville Station, which claims to be around the center of Mickelson trail.  It had a little picnic area and some some historical information which made for an interesting read. We rode on and on, nearly nine miles, until we reached Crazy Horse Monument.

We took a short break in the tunnel there, let the kids stretch their legs, have a snack and took a few photos up above. Rested and ready to return, we mounted up and this time headed in a glorious direction...downhill.  After the majority of the trip to Crazy Horse being uphill, we very much welcomed the smooth ease of the downhill ride.  It made taking in the scenery a bit easier and more enjoyable as well.  The sunlight sparkled through the leaves of the deciduous trees, the smell of the pines in the heat was delightful, the breeze was cool against our faces and the sunlight pouring through spots on the trail warmed us. We stopped along the way at various locations to take in the surroundings and really appreciate the beauty of the trail.

We arrived, a bit more exhausted, at the detours again, and finished the last arduous part of our journey.  Once past the construction zones, we smoothly headed back to the trailhead.  We let the kids play at the park while we loaded up our bikes and gear, and I grabbed the picnic dinner I had packed and we joined the kids at the park area to finish our day with dinner and a gorgeous sunset,  all of us happy as could be! We look forward to our next adventure!  With so many fantastic options in this area to bike, to hike, things to see and do, it is such an amazing place to visit, and an even better place to live.  Get out and experience this beautiful place and make some wonderful memories!

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About the Author

Shawna is a mother of two and professional photographer in the Black Hills region.  Being originally from out of state, she has been taken by the beauty of the Black Hills and intends to experience as much of it as she can.  With her camera and children she sets off...

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