Trail Running - Mickelson Trail

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Running this section of the Mickelson Trail is a classic Black Hills activity. This section of the 109-mile trail is one of the most scenic sections, with bridges and tunnels along the way.

Written by

Michaela Mader


16.0 miles

From the Mystic to Rochford trailheads and then back is almost exactly 16 miles.

Destination Distance From Downtown

20.3 miles


2 of 5 diamonds

The terrain is gentle and fairly level. The trail is constructed out of decomposed limestone and gravel and is easy to navigate and easy on the knees. There is a slight elevation gain on the out portion of this out and back, but a smooth decline back to the trailhead.

Time To Complete

3 hours

Depending on your pace, it's definitely possible to make it from the Mystic to Rochford trailheads in two to three hours. It's almost exactly 16 miles roundtrip, but you could make your turn around point closer to the Mystic trailhead.


Spring, Summer, and Fall

All seasons are great here, and sometimes even warm winter days are beautiful on the trail, but ice and mud can collect in places on the trail during the winter.

Dog Friendly

On Leash Only

All pets must be on leash, but this trail is a great one for your running buddy.

Fees Permits


$4 day use pass or $15 annual use pass

Topographical Map

Map - Mickelson Trail



A run on Mickelson Trail is a staple to any outdoors enthusiast's trip to the Black Hills. The 109-mile trail was once a railroad that spanned the length of the Black Hills. The trail was constructed for those who love biking, running, and horseback riding. The section from Mystic to Rochford includes bridges and tunnels, a creek flowing next to the trail, and the scenery makes a long workout feel short.

What Makes It Great

Most of the trail is under 4% grade with the steepest sections from Dumont to Deadwood. From Mystic, run north and you will run over trestle bridges and through tunnels that once carried trains from the southern Black Hills to the gold mines around Deadwood.

While you could really push yourself and set some personal bests on the easy trail, you probably will want to enjoy it at a more leisurely pace. Plus, the wild raspberry plants that line the trail on this section will entice you for more rest breaks than normal. Make this an out and back and stop for a beer at the rustic saloon in Rochford, or shuttle the run with two cars at the trailheads.

Who is Going to Love It

Any level of runner is going to love this route. The path is easy, so you could really push yourself, but if a slower pace is more your style, this one is for you too. While the major races held on this trail are sanctioned trail races, this isn’t a stretch from running on a bike path, minus the fact that there aren’t the conveniences of running on a path in a city. There is spotty cell phone reception and few places with water and places to use the bathroom, so if those are a must for you, pick a section of trail closer to one of the towns that the Mickelson runs through.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

To get to the Mystic trailhead, head northwest of Hill City on West Deerfield Road. Continue for 5.3 miles. Continue straight for 8.7 miles on Mystic Road. Turn right on to George Frink Road. The trailhead will be located immediately on the right side of the road. Once you're on the trail, head north until you hit the Rochford trail head after 8 miles and come back, or pick a point along the way to turn around.$4 day trail passes are required for users over the age of twelve. 

All pets must be leashed. The trail is users from a half hour after sunset to a half hour before sunrise.

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