Hiking The Homestake Trail Above Deadwood
The Homestake Trail is a 5.7 mile out and back trail that connects the cities of Deadwood and Lead in South Dakota. This is a fairly new trail that was dedicated on September 9th, 2017. It was created and is maintained by the Northern Hills Recreation Association and Trail Committee
The trail was designed around an old railroad line of the Fremont, Elkhorn and Missouri Valley Railroad that once moved supplies between the two cities. The only tracks visible now are found on the George S. Mickelson Trail which you shortly hike on to reach the Homestake Trail (if starting in Deadwood).
The trail is fairly well marked and easy to follow just keep a look out for the white diamond trail markers. Be aware though that the trail also borders Homestake mine property as well as other privately owned land. Please respect other peoples property and stay on trail.
You may start the hike in either city. If beginning in Lead the hike begins at the Lead City Dog Park, located at 300 Washington Street. There is no official parking lot so you will have to find public parking. If starting in Deadwood the trailhead can be found at Powerhouse Park, located at 50 Water Street. This is also the location of the Mickelson trailhead. Bathrooms, water and a large parking lot our available at this location.
We started the hike on the Deadwood end of the trail. After a short walk on the paved Mickelson Trail you will come to the junction for the Homestake Trail. It’s a little confusing at first, but you will see a informational board about the Homestake Trail and if you look to your right you will see a dirt path going up. That is where your hike will officially begin.
The trail will take you up McGovern Hill that has many private residencies scattered on it so make sure you are following the correct path. There are plenty of signs to guide your way so you shouldn’t get lost. It’s a bit of a climb to the ridgeline above, but after you’ve conquered that it’s a pretty easy hike.
You will be traveling above the city of Deadwood and between groves of pines you will be able to observe the city below and the views beyond. A number of informational plaques have been added to the path providing history on the area. We are from Akron, Ohio which is not far from Cleveland, Ohio so discovering the city of Deadwood once had a section named Cleveland itself back in the day was pretty sweet.
The hike is nice and easy, but truth is we didn’t finish it. We got bored and turned around about halfway through at the marker leading down to the city of lead. Don’t get me wrong there is absolutely nothing wrong with this hike. It provides great views of the cities and you get to walk through some pretty pines.
I think it’s awesome to have a hike so close to an urban environment, but still feel like your completely in nature. We have just been an some epic hikes the last month or so and I think we were jaded.
Though not part of the actual Homestake Trail the historic site of the Burlington Interurban Power Plant is located just minutes away. When you start at Deadwood you will see the bathrooms at the start of the Mickelson Trail and if you make a right it will take you to this historical site.
The Burlington Powerhouse operated from 1902 until 1910 and was originally built to generate electricity to run a passenger trolley between the cities of Lead and Deadwood. It was demolished in 1911, but remnants of it’s once 135-foot tall smokestack can still be seen today.
The Deadwood Historic Preservation Commission has built a nice walkway around the area showcasing the smokestack remains, a number of informational boards as well as a small replica of a smokestack. It’s a nice little piece of history preserved for future generations. Did I mention you will get to listen to the sounds of a little creek as you travel on the boardwalk?
So if you’re visiting Deadwood and need a little break from the hustle and bustle of this historic little tourist town head to the woods above and take a little hike. Smell some fresh pine, learn a little history and just unwind for a little bit!