Back in 2012, when Governor Dennis Daugaard proposed funding the Rushmore Connector Trail between the Mickelson Trail at Hill City and Mount Rushmore, I said it sounded like a great idea. Now the U.S Forest Service is taking comments to see if the public agrees.
Interested citizens can send comments by post or e-mail through July 7:
- Forest Supervisor, Black Hills National Forest, ATTN: Rushmore Connector Trail, 1019 N. 5th Street, Custer, SD 57730
- firstname.lastname@example.org (include “Rushmore Connector Trail” in the subject line)
Folks in the Black Hills can also drop by two public meetings this week:
- Tuesday, June 14, 5:30–8:00 p.m.: Hill City HS commons, 488 Main St., Hill City
- Thursday, June 16, 5:30–8:00 p.m.: Hilton Garden Inn, 815 E. Mall Drive, Rapid City
A couple weeks ago I stayed in Hill City and took an evening ride east on the Old Hill city Road toward Mount Rushmore. I shouldered my wheels and cut south on the Centennial Trail to the Big Pine Trail Head, which would be moved from the north side of the road to the south to accommodate the Rushmore Connector. I then sailed back to Hill City on 244 and the Mickelson Trail. Beautiful.
Hill City already makes a great base camp for a biking vacation: one day north on the Mickelson Trail to Mystic and Rochford, the next south to Crazy Horse and Custer, third out to Deerfield Lake, fourth a highway loop to Rushmore, and finally a killer climb and kamikaze descent on the Sylvan Lake Road.
Add a surfaced, off-highway trail for non-motorized travel from Hill City to South Dakota’s most famous tourist attraction, and Hill City will see a significant increase in bicyclists and backpackers.
But we have some time to break in our boots on other trails: the environmental impact study won’t be done until next year. South Dakota Game Fish & Parks likely would be able to break out shovels until 2018… just in time for gubernatorial candidate G. Mark Mickelson to attend groundbreaking at the Burlington Northern Hill City Trailhead on the trail named for his far-sighted father.