Cycling the Mickelson Trail as a family with six kids.

This post is tentative, we’re still out touring but I wanted to get something up. If you have any questions or proposed additions send them to and I’ll add them to the post.

There were a lot of things we didn’t know exactly how to plan for, even though we’ve toured as a family quite extensively.

What the campsites would be like, the trail conditions (it’s good we swapped out my daughters road tires), and generally how tenuous it would be. It’s easy to think about all these factors while in the comfort of your own home, but another thing to live them with the introduction of heat, wind or rain. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve forgotten to bring warm weather gear on a summer hike to the mountains, it’s hard to imagine it could be cold in July!

Here’s a breakdown of our trip.

Day 1: deadwood up 19 miles to Carstens Cottages in Dumont.

Mostly climbing but beautiful views.

One of many trailside stops, there were places like this with water cisterns. Probably 10 plus on the trail.
Carsten Cottages, huge lawn with plenty of space.

Day 2: Dumont to 2.5 miles past Hill City

.3 miles in to our 37 mile day our 9 year old crashed and got a few scrapes. Nurse Brittany cleaned her up and we were off again.
The climbing from yesterday paid off big, we had a downhill with the wind at our backs for nearly 15 miles. Like my friend Spencer says, Gratitude is knowing when the wind is at tour back. We then had 10 miles at an uphill grade, then another 10 down.
6 year old rode 23 of the 37 miles and Brittany pulled her the rest of the way. I’ve had to pull all the stops to motivate her at times. Telling her old embarrassing stories.
We also jammed to some kid bop kidz on the Bluetooth speaker, had tons of Nutella apples, pretzels and bread, and finished off my watermelon from day 1. Watermelon isn’t a great touring food, btw, but I have an amazing gift of making things overly difficult for myself.
Some of these views are much like the countryside Germany or Switzerland, minus the mountains, it’s beautiful here in the black hills.
It’s fun to see the older kids step up and give moral support to the younger ones.
For the last two days I’ve let our 3 year old sit on my rear rack with me for 5-10 miles, we go so slow, 8-10 miles per hour, so I feel it’s plenty safe.
It took 7 hours to ride 37 miles, that’s basically 5 miles per hour that we’re out. When I tour with other adults that number is about 10.
People definitely do a double take when we ride by. We definitely are a sight, an 8 person traveling caravan.

We’re thinking of taking a rest day tomorrow, this is a nice campsite and the kids may appreciate a break.

We ran into cows on the trail, they kindly moved out of our way.
Tunnels! I didn’t count, but we passed through several on this trail.

Day 3: Rest Day

50 a night to camp at this amazing place, crooked creek resort and RV park.
Played in the stream for hours, then rode 3 miles back to hill city to visit the museum to see dinosaur bones, and get roped into buying all the kids little stuffed animal souvenirs that we have no room for:)

Much needed rest day, we were toast after the last couple days, ready to go again tomorrow.
Talking with the camp host about disc injuries, he was messed up and gave me good tips. He walks away and Kimball says, “that guy makes your injury sound like you just stubbed your toe.” So clever.

Wisdom from the same guy: horses, dogs and 4 year olds are the most intuitive creatures. If a stranger approaches, they take on the attitude of their owner.

Fight of the day, Ada landed a perfect hit across the campsite with our dish brush and hit bennett right in the head. All kids fight, right?

Hill city was close enough to be able to ride in and shop at Krull’s market.

Museum stop, lots of fossils in the old basketball gym

Day 4: Outside of Hill City to TC horse ranch, 7 miles past Custer.

Up at 7:15
Out the door, or riding by 9:00.
There’s quite a gap in campsites between Hill city and Edgemont South Dakota. In the forums there’s talk of a restaurant that lets people set up tents outside if there’s space, we had coordinated with them ahead of time but when we called today they said it wasn’t available.

We didn’t want to stop in Custer because that would only be a 15 mile day, and give us a 45 mile day to get to Edgemont the next day. It’s also supposed to be hot, so we wanted to get as many miles in today as we could. Today was really hot, kids aren’t loving that.

Lots less shade in these parts…

The person who is shuttling us back to our car in deadwood (Jon at Roam’n Around, he’s amazing!) told us of a place about a mile off the trail it’s pro primarily a horse camp, this place is a gem. Getting here was not awesome, very much an uphill climb, but once we were here several seasonal residents were very kind, and we were able to set up a tent right next to a little playground, and bathhouse.

Amazing views. We’re the only tent campers here. Our back up plan was to Boondock, and stay somewhere on national forest land, but this is nice because we’ll have warm showers.

Day 5:

We made it! The kids rode 41 miles today.) 120 Mile’s total, headed to do the Katy trail in Missouri next.
Saw some hot air balloons when we woke up, experienced the hottest weather yet (high of 89), had some amazing breaks Ada and Bennett now have new records for their single day ride, with hills and on gravel no less. Shuttling back to our car to head to the next place.

Victory photo in Edgemont.

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