Explore custer - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

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We just hiked trail #9 from Sylvan Lake to Black Elk Peak. The trail was snow-covered and muddy, in parts, which made it more difficult than expected. The views at the top were amazing! My husband found a perfect spot to camp for the night, about a half mile down from the peak. Overall, a great hike, but fairly difficult with our 25 lb packs.

Epic views at the top. Tough hike when there is snow on the ground but well worth it. Dog friendly.

hiking
19 days ago

Beautiful hike and not overly difficult. A little work involved but the value of the scenery well outweighs the work to get there.

Difficult trail especially toward the top, but very worth it. I did it twice in a month because the views from the top are so incredible. Would love to do this one again someday.

hiking
19 days ago

Great trail that will challenge you a little. Can get a little steep in places but rails make it relatively easy to handle. Coming back up from the gulch is a bit of climb and will get the pulse rate up if you take it fast. Take your time though, the scenery is beautiful and worth some picture stops.

hiking
19 days ago

This is a five star trail simply for the scenery. Sylvan Lake is absolutely gorgeous. Very simple walk/hike. Anyone in relatively decent health can complete this trail.

Beautiful views along the entire trail from Sylvan Lake to Black Elk Peak then onto Little Devil's Tower. The trail is relatively difficult, but most people could complete it with plenty of water and time for breaks. Definitely my favorite trail in South Dakota.

Very cool trail. Towards the end you do have climb a t little. Keep an eye on the weather, bring something to stay warm.

Great trail with great views. Some areas require using your hands to climb up rocky areas.

hiking
1 month ago

Great trail with incredible views. This is definitely the path less traveled. We made the mistake of taking after the tourists who just hiked around Sylvan lake. We did not wear our snow boots, ice spikes, or bring hiking poles. Big mistake if there is snow! The stairs coming out of the canyon were completely covered in 2-3 feet of ice! It was a challenge, luckily there are railings most of the way.

on Legion Lake Trail

hiking
1 month ago

Nice quick hike in CSP. The trail was snow covered in most parts but was able to follow it easily using the blue markers.

Beautiful and slightly challenging. Take enough water and trek poles would have been helpful on the way down.

Panoramic views of the best of the black hills!

Amazing trail! If I had to do just one in the hills it’d be this one. Trail is generally pretty moderate, take your time though cause as you near the top it’s pretty steep and rugged. Bring a snack and some coffee to enjoy at the top. Well worth the time

Amazing! I went up 9 and down 4, starting and ending at Sylvan Lake. I did this hike Dec 1 where it was 50 degrees F and sunny. The sun was low in southern sky and seemed to hit the valley off 9 well in the late morning and afternoon sun hit spires and other large needle boulders down path beautifully off 4. You get amazing views of the spires on 4 and can kind of play on them. I skipped little devils head trail. The little jaunt to top of Harney is tough and it sure is windy up there. My favorite part was the spires off 4.

hiking
4 months ago

Hiked last weekend and trail is getting icy, especially west side descent into canyon. Hiking pole was a great help. Several areas warrant extra care and will slow down the hike. Otherwise a really great trail with nice views and variety.

hiking
5 months ago

Amazing trail. Did it get n November so a little slick in spots, but overall top notch

We hiked in Nov and there was very little snow. The trail was often rocky with elevation gain but it was enjoyable. The views of the Needles, Stockade Lake and Crazy Horse were cool. There had been lots of tree cutting and down timber, so the trail didn’t follow the map. Could use some maintenance.

An easy walk, great for kids. Brought our 2 dogs and they loved it too!

hiking
5 months ago

Lovely trail - views, forest, streams and took us under two hours walking in light snow. Wasn’t great for the dog however - lots of difficult, slippery rock-hopping, aided by (much-needed) handrails.

Loved it! Great views along the way and at the top!

hiking
5 months ago

Spectacular views, very steep section of trail climbing over boulders. Saw a family of 4 mountain goats near the trailhead on the way back!

on Prairie Trail

hiking
6 months ago

Beautiful trail. Alternates between open grassland and pine or oak wooded areas with a couple of stream crossings. Gorgeous views. Encountered a herd of bison about half way but was able to skirt around them at a safe distance. Note: the park rates this as a moderate trail and I would agree since the inclines are fairly steep and long - just didn’t feel like an ‘easy’ trail.

What a beautiful hike to Little Devils Tower and back 3.8 miles. Temp was about 64 and pure blue skies and sun. It was so awesome when we got to the top to see the 360 degree views. You’ll be climbing and scrambling on large boulders. Breathtaking.

Beautiful lake, beautiful scenery!!

Very pretty hike!

hiking
6 months ago

Numerous beautiful terrains. It was a great hike to take in the scenery. It'll work your legs, so be prepared!

hiking
6 months ago

We took our two dogs clockwise on the trail, moderate difficulty as described was accurately so....until we approached the base of the staircase. It was HARD. We physically had to lift/ assist our 50 and 60 lb dogs across the rough boulders, ice, and freezing water that lay at our feet. If it was just us- no problem- but you WILL have to carry your dog at some point, also- felt more like 8 miles. One of the more technical trails to traverse with a dog.

hiking
6 months ago

This hike is easy to moderate, climbing up and down rocks at times. Views of needles rock outcroppings. Good variety of scenery. The Needles Highway is closed in winter.

hiking
6 months ago

Great hike - my nephew who was 5 at the time loved it for 3/4s of the hike and then said it got a little long toward end. I would say that parts of the trail could be considered hard, and allow more time for the trail than you would think.

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