Bicycling distance and time, based on personal preference, may be anywhere from 2 to 10 miles or up to 3 hours. Miles biked will not exceed a 4 percent grade. The Mickelson trail is an old railroad bed converted to a hiking and biking trail made of crushed limestone & smooth gravel. Walking the trail instead of bicycling is also an option. Drive time will total 35 miles, about 20 minutes to each destination.
In the Lodge dining facility, choose what you like from the tasty breakfast buffet with hot and cold cereals, waffles with fruit topping, hard-boiled eggs, rotating main dishes, pastries, bagels, yogurt, fruit, coffee, tea, milk, and an assortment of juices.
Under the guidance of our expert Group Leader, we’ll explore the United States’ Shrine of Democracy – Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Danish-American sculptor Gutzon Borglum, the creator of Mount Rushmore, wrote: “The purpose of the memorial is to communicate the founding, expansion, preservation, and unification of the United States with colossal statues of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt.” Borglum intended his monumental sculpture to be not only a memorial to four of our greatest Presidents, but a Shrine to Democracy. Why these four? Washington led the nascent United States to win independence from Great Britain. Jefferson was the author of the Declaration of Independence. Roosevelt the “trust buster” ensured the rights of working people and was instrumental in building the Panama Canal. Lincoln led the country through the Civil War. Borglum began work in 1927 and continued until his death in 1941, when his son, Lincoln Borglum, took it on and ended work later that year. If you wish, feel free to expand your exploration of Mount Rushmore with an independent short walk on a portion of the Presidential Trail to Borglum’s studio. Interpretive signage along the way will illuminate more about the monument, its construction, and the artist whose vision produced one of America’s most iconic symbols.
At the Lodge, the lunch buffet includes a choice of soups or salads and sandwiches plus coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.
We'll travel to Hill City, home to one of the Mickelson Trail trailheads where each of us will be furnished a personally fitted bicycle to ride on a truly unique Black Hills trail according to personal preference. In addition to the bike, everyone will also have a helmet, flat tire repair kit, a place to hold a water bottle, and any instruction or advice needed from expert bicyclists. Walking the trail instead of bicycling it is also an option. The Mickelson Trail was originally the Burlington Northern line that took trains from the southern Black Hills to the northern gold mining towns of the Black Hills. The line was abandoned in 1983. A group of outdoor enthusiasts recognized the trails potential, and with support of then Governor Mickelson, it became the state’s first Rails-to-Trails project. We'll ride from the Red Fern Trail Head to Mystic. This portion of the trail is level with a slight downhill grade. The trail meanders through pine forests, colorful meadows, rock canyons and wooden train tunnels. We'll return via motorcoach to the Lodge in Keystone.