After using a long stretch of track that went through the scenic Black Hills for almost a century, the Burlington Northern & Santa Fe (formerly Chicago Burlington & Quincy Railroad Company) quit running in 1983. The idea to turn the railroad into a multi-use trail surface that same year, but wasn't acted on until 1986. Former Governor George S. Mickelson, the trail's namesake, was instrumental in the Rails-to-Trails project, but was sadly killed in a plane crash before he could see it completed.
The 109-mile trail features converted railroad bridges and imposing rock tunnels while taking a winding trip through the Black Hills. The trail is a multi-use pathway with countless spots that are perfect for having a picnic, and many interpretive signs which illustrate the area's rich history and diverse geography. Since its opening in 1998, the trail has been host to hundreds of events and has given thousands of people a chance to see the beautiful Black Hills.
In 2012, the Mickelson Trail was inducted into the National Rails-to-Trails Hall of Fame, and in 2013, it was named one of the top ten trails in the world by FOX News.