Mines News

Release Date Wednesday, October 12, 2022

South Dakota Mines Hosts Ribbon Cutting for New Trail Above Campus

A mountain biker descends one section of the new Rocker Trail above the campus of South Dakota Mines.

Rapid City has a new outdoor opportunity in the Rocker Trail. The walking, running and biking trail loops across the grass-covered hills above the South Dakota Mines campus, providing wonderful views of Rapid City, the surrounding prairie and the Black Hills. The university will host a ribbon cutting for the new Rocker Trail at the northeast end of the O’Harra Stadium parking lot at 11 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 13. The media and members of the public are invited to attend and take a walk on the trail.

“Rocker Trail is a fantastic addition to our campus. It allows students a new place to enjoy some outdoor fun right out their back door,” says Mines President Jim Rankin, Ph.D., P.E. “This trail is also open to community members and its proximity to the bike path along Rapid Creek makes it easy for everyone to access. The public is welcome to come see it first-hand,” Rankin adds.

In total, the Rocker Trail is three miles long and includes multiple access points that are marked with signs. One trailhead is just to the east of the O’Harra Stadium parking lot near the sidewalk on St. Joseph Street. Another is located on the tree-covered slope above Connolly Hall.

The trail includes education components. Faculty in the civil engineering department are working on a land reclamation study along the trail. They have also constructed a living laboratory adjacent to the trail that is the center of ongoing research and engineering education. Students in the industrial engineering department helped design the signs along the trail and Mines students studying geological engineering helped with the digital mapping for the project. The trail also has historical significance, as the “Smelter Hill” area above O’Harra Stadium processed gold and other metals during the early days of the school.

The Rocker Trail project was first conceptualized about 14 years ago as the “Turbine Trail.” Its name refers to the wind turbine that is perched above campus. Emeritus professor of civil engineering, M.R. Hansen, Ph.D., and former dean of students, Patricia Mahon, Ph.D., were two of those behind the original idea, among others on campus.

The project was carried forward by Jon Kellar, Ph.D., a faculty member in the Department of Materials and Metallurgical Engineering, and Jerilyn Roberts, associate vice president for Facilities, Risk and Services. The first phase of the renewed effort involved a senior design project by a team of civil engineering students who developed the initial trail concept. South Dakota Mines student volunteers, including 2020 graduate Fernando Vazquez, and Jaden Deuter, a current student in mechanical engineering, led the trail-building effort with numerous student groups from across campus. The project received a major boost thanks to a grant totaling $48,913 from the from the South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks Recreational Trails Program.  


About South Dakota Mines  

Founded in 1885, South Dakota Mines is one of the nation’s leading engineering, science and technology universities. South Dakota Mines offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees and a best-in-class education at an affordable price. The university enrolls 2,493 students with an average class size of 24. The South Dakota Mines placement rate for graduates is 98 percent, with an average starting salary of more than $70,036. For these reasons  South Dakota Mines is ranked among the best engineering schools in the country for return on investment. Find us online at www.sdsmt.edu and on FacebookTwitter, LinkedInInstagram, and Snapchat.

Contact: Mike Ray, 605-394-6082, mike.ray@sdsmt.edu