Explore south dakota - 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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trail running
1 day ago

My favorite trail. Ever. I go clockwise on this loop to avoid a steep descent and look forward to the steep ascent at the end. Your legs and lungs will be challenged.
Adding about a half mile round trip from the parking lot to/from the trail head, I’ll run/hike this in about 56 minutes. The terrain is varied and rugged with spectacular views. I prefer to go light and fast with no water, no pack, but make sure to hydrate just enough before beginning the run. This trail alone is worth investing in high end trail running shoes.

Very easy. Breathtaking. Connects to other trails for more of a challenge :) don’t forget $20 for the entry fee!

Sylvan Lake is such a pretty lake, and this is a nice trail for a walk/short workout. The back side of the trail has some light rocky parts so you don’t feel like you’re just walking an urban trail. After hiking Black Elk Peak yesterday, my muscles needed some easy work, and twice around the trail was perfect. There’s a scenic lookout on the north end of the lake where you can take photos, and if you’re a rock climber, there’s a nice one back there.

I came for the destination and ended up enjoying the journey. It's a long, unchallenging hike. You walk and walk and walk and eventually ascend to the peak where you ... look around. You're so high that the endless views, while admittedly beautiful, have little scale.

Along the paths up (we took trail 9) and down (trail 4), however, you'll find magic. Unexpected views, sudden spires, and quiet beauty everywhere. It's a wonderful trail.

2 days ago

An amazing trail with a great view

Gorgeous hike, a bit challenging as the trail became more rocky near the top, but so worth it. It’s also good to remember the elevation of the area — Custer is at 5500 ft (higher than Denver), so the air is a bit thinner. The trail isn’t especially shady, so if the sun is out, bring plenty of water; I almost finished 72 oz. Trail snacks, too. We went up #9 and down #4, which allowed for amazing views in front of us both ways. It took us about 5 hours, but we stopped for photos and a brief rest/snack at the top. If you have trekking poles, bring them for the trip down — your knees will thank you. One of my favorite hikes.

hiking
3 days ago

excellent trail. something for everyone.

great trail with good views.

Surprised at the ruggedness of this area, it was definitely a challenge but totally worth it. Spectacular hike!

Great walk! The highest peak from east of Rockies to the Pyrenees

Love it

One of the most beautiful places I have ever been. The drive there up the Needles Highway was great, we even saw some mountain goats. The trail was awesome. At about 1 mike in is an amazing view and there are many more all along the way. The peak itself is unique due time the watchtower. Definitely recommend this trail!

beautiful.

great little hike. Best taken counter-clockwise because the "stairs" along the boulders are pretty steep. beautiful setting at Sylvan Lake.

hiking
11 days ago

Interesting to walk through base of towering spires. Top/end of trail anticlimactic. Journey through spires best part of trail.

hiking
11 days ago

Pretty man-made lake with dam. Gravel trail well maintained. Crowded with vacationing tourists.

hiking
11 days ago

Gradual inclines with rock scramble near top. Beautiful 360 vista views at top. Quartz stones along trail provide good footings on slippery rocks. Seems like it'd be slippery if wet.

hiking
11 days ago

Great hike with some great views. It really puts the CSP Fire into perspective as you can’t see the effects much from the road. I recommend doing the trail clockwise.

Easy paved trail. Great views of the monument. Partially closed for renovations.

hiking
14 days ago

Really nice hike through some different terrain. Took this trail counterclockwise and glad we did started with some and and downs and some even ground along a creek and yellowing aspens, very pretty. Outlook was about a mile from the end of our hike and was a great view. Climb the rocks and you will be rewarded with a lovely 360 view.

hiking
16 days ago

This is a great hike. Being from Colorado I'm used to having steep inclines and dodgy terrain so this felt like home! We decided to go counter clockwise because hitting the boulders at the end would have been a bit much after so much climbing already. However it's probably a coin toss if you would rather have a very long stretch of steady uphill (counter clockwise) or mostly downhill with some major climbing at the end (clockwise). Either way you climb a mountain.

Great trail and some really breathtaking views.

One thing to be aware of is that this is IN Custer Park so you'll have to pay $25 to get to the trail head.

You can see my track for this hike, we completed it in about 2 hours with 30 minutes extra for taking pictures or quick water breaks.

Lovely hike. My 7 and 9y/o’s did fine, the little one needed a bit of help on the bouldering/handrail section. We started left, which I recommend to save the best part of the hike for last. Took us a leisurely 3+ hours.

hiking
17 days ago

Hiked this with my husband, mom and three boys (9, 5, & 2). Easy walking, a little section of going through rocks. Really neat to see the spires as it’s not our usual scenery. Definitely a must do hike in Custer State Park. I would not considerate it to be a strenuous hike as many of the literature states.

on Sunday Gulch Trail

hiking
17 days ago

I'm an avid hiker and this was a beautiful trail took about 3 hrs while taking time to climb rocks and going off the path a little. I did it counter clockwise where you start all downhill at first and that seemed easier. I'd suggest next time to do it clockwise if you don't mind the extra work. Definitely worth the hike, very fun with all the handrails and rock steps.

hiking
17 days ago

This hike is beautiful! It is very strenuous...wear good hiking shoes or sandals. My little 10# yorkie handled this hike with no problem..I helped him twice. I found for my own safety it was better to take him off the leash on the boulder sections. There were some very steep inclines that were rocky and lots of tree roots. Have fun...stay safe...pack in and pack out.

hiking
18 days ago

Parts of the trail aren't all that interesting and I had to ask where to find the trailhead, but the view at the top was enjoyable.

hiking
19 days ago

Amazing trail. Spectacular views and we loved climbing up the waterfall. We chose to go to the left once we got to the turn off past Sylvan Lake. We started from the store. It was moderately strenuous but interesting changes of terrain. Our 5 kids enjoyed it as well- aged 3-15. If your child is use to hiking they will be fine, just take plenty of water and snacks and plan on stopping for breaks. The 3 year was even able to complete it, including the waterfall climb but he’s been out with us a lot. It took us almost exactly 4 hours.

Love this hike with the waterfalls and staircases.

hiking
23 days ago

We went counter clock-wise starting from the parking lot meaning we went down the gulch portion. Fun trail but we picked a bad time to go, during a flash flood watch! And with about 2 miles left, the skies opened, the marble-sized hail fell and the lightning flashed. Poor decision on our part but other than that we liked the trail. Be careful on the railed portion though. Those rocks are slippery! USE THE HANDRAILS...that's what they're there for! Not much to see on the northern most portion but it gets scenic after that as you climb back up out of the gulch.

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