"Of all the paths you take in life make sure a few of them are dirt" US Forest Sevice

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The ghost town of Mystic

The Mickelson Trail

Imagine a path where the ghosts of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane still roam; where bicyclists, hikers and horseback riders can explore spruce and ponderosa pine forests; and the very young, the very old and people of all abilities can enjoy.

The George S. Mickelson Trail is in the heart of the beautiful Black Hills. Its gentle slopes and easy access allow people to enjoy the beauty of the Black Hills. Much of the trail passes through National Forest Land, but there are parts of the trail that pass through privately owned land, where trail use is restricted to the trail only.
The trail is 109 miles long and contains more than 100 converted railroad bridges and 4 rock tunnels. The trail surface is primarily crushed limestone and gravel. There are 15 trailheads.
We had ridden part of the Mickelson Trail towards Crazy Horse the last time we were in Custer. Our neighbor from Florida was familiar with the Mickelson Trail because he had ridden the entire 109 mile trail in the past on his bike with the help of a shuttle. He mentioned that the most interesting section in his opinion was from Rockford south to Mystic.
Most of the Mickelson Trail is without shade. We decided to wait until a cold front came in and drove to the ghost town of Mystic. Mystic was established when gold was found. There were several active mines along the way.  It was down a dirt road with very little traffic or buildings. Since it is an old railroad track, the grades are not more than 3-5%.
There were trestles.
Three tunnels on our section
The old church that was part of the gold mining ghost town of Mystic.

Beautiful walls that had been blasted for the train tracks.
and a waterfall to keep our interest and our peddles turning.

We enjoy geocaching but some of our favorites are caches that are gadgets. This one was easy to find but took a bit to figure out how to get the combination for the lock so we could get the log out and sign it.  I think it is ok to post this since I am not identifying where this cache is or which one it is.
Below are the instructions.

This is no normal bird house though. This bird house has metal objects protruding from it. What do I do you ask? Well first let us look at a few FACTS:

FACT: This cache uses electricity.
FACT: Electricity WILL flow through your body in order to complete the circuit.
FACT: You have to make the choice of which two bolts to grab and squeeze! Being afraid to squeeze will result in no smiley!
FACT: DC voltage can be felt at as little as 5mA! How much will this cache produce?
FACT: Calling 911 will get you medical emergency help if needed.
Before attempting this cache, ask yourself this! Is there enough electricity (voltage) in this cache to cause me pain! After completing the circuit, the cache will provide you with the necessary combination to the lock, as long as you are looking at the cache correctly! To complete the circuit, you will need to select two of the protruding metal objects and squeeze one with each hand. Continue to choose combinations of metal objects until the cache reveals the hidden code. The combination lock can be opened by entering the first 4 letters of the middle color the cache revealed when you completed the circuit.

No pain was felt and we did find the two bolts to grab that show the middle color to get the cache.


  1. What a beautiful area for the bike trail...scenery is grand. Looks like a good find on the geocache.

    1. It was peaceful and beautiful. The cache was a fun one and took a bit to figure it out.

  2. We have been in the Black Hills twice and never did that trail. Boy did we miss out. Gorgeous!
    HAHAHA....I love the instructions. How clever.

  3. Would you believe I was in Mystic on Sunday. The friends traveling with us are planning to bike the whole trail and did the upper third first. We went to the Mystic trail head to pick them up but since I didn't see much of the trail, I enjoyed your pics.

    1. That is crazy. We must have just missed you and your friends. That is a long ride.

  4. Looks like a beautiful ride -- it's always good to get tips on the most scenic stretch. We love those rails-to-trails multi-use paths! I think the instructions for the geocache might have scared me away.

    1. Those trails are the best. I didn't grab the screws too hard until Mike tried first.