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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Great hike! Went up #9 and down #4 in about 3 hours, including a LOT of stopping for pics and following tracks. #4 was pretty wet with the recent melt. If you are only doing one hike in the area, this would be it. If you don't want the full loop, go up #4, Cathedral Spires are a sight.

Took #9 up and #4 down. Went up two days ago. Beautiful hike just after a light snow and trail is well kept. Took my time exploring the little devils tower and cathedral spires on the way down, took about 4 hours in total. Saw a mountain lion 15 ft away about 3/4 of the way up #9, seemed like a nice guy though

hiking
8 days ago

This trail is probably amazing, but inaccessible after heavy rain! Fell a few times due to mud, so just be aware that if it is super muddy, you probably won't be able to hike it :( Will go back to see it when it is not muddy! :)

Did this Oct 9. 2-3" of snow. Was a nice hike but of course fogged in at the top. We followed tracks in the snow for more than a mile before we came upon a cougar near the trail split at the top. Was cool to see for the few seconds we saw it. Despite no be is it was a very awesome hike. Snowed on us on the way back down.

We hiked out on trail 4 and took the Spur out to the little devils tower. It was a great lookout Over the valley and over to the fire station. It was also a fun scramble to get up to it. The view from the fire station is spectacular except it was very windy. We hiked back to our car on trail nine. It gave a great perspective of how high up we were on the little devils tower. It was also nice to get a different view coming back to our car. Excellent hike.

hiking
17 days ago

My favorite hike in the Badlands. Great view from the top and a challenging ascent.

hiking
19 days ago

Took Bentley for a beautiful, fun fall hike.

19 days ago

Very unique trail. We went out after a rain and it was extremely slick. But once we got back to the start it was dry. Rain makes for a very different trail experience. The trail crossed in front of big horned sheep that were grazing on a cliff . We did the medicine loop out and the castle trail back. This clocked in at 11.1 miles. Definitely do this early as there is very little shade and you are in full sun and wind exposure. Other than the slipperyness because of the rain it’s not hard or technical - the only hard part about it is 11 miles round-trip.

Great trail. We went up #9 and came down #3 to #4. We parked at Sylvan Lake which is part of Custer State Park. You must pay an entrance fee to park at Sylvan Lake as part of Custer State Park and the entrance fee is good for a week. The trails actually then leave Custer State Park and go into the Black Hills national forest where are you sign an entrance document on the trail. The trail is well maintained, dirt and rocks and not technical. The hardest part was probably going up the incline and the stairs at the end to reach the fire tower. The fire tower at the end was a lot of fun to explore - lots a little nooks and crannies. This clocked in at 7.6 miles and took us 3 1/2 hours. The scenery and views throughout were amazing. If you are in decent shape you will be fine on this

hiking
20 days ago

once i finished this trail (taken as a loop with part of centennial) i found myself wishing i could go back and change all my other 5-star ratings to 4-star ratings

had to go about a half-mile off the trail to avoid a huge bison rubbing his tumtum on the trail marker, but totally worth it

hiking
24 days ago

Great Trail! Variety of prairies, hills, and beautiful valleys. Some bison got in out path. We waited for some time for them to move on. They are in no hurry to go anywhere. Closer than we wanted to be. It was a wonderful time spent with my wonderful wife!

hiking
24 days ago

Short but challenging trail, especially when muddy, as it had rained the day before. Great view at the top and good way to access Medicine Root Trail.

hiking
25 days ago

Great views, but felt a bit redundant along the way. Perfect way to see what the badlands has to offer. Don’t let the distance scare you off as this a very manageable hike if you are game for it.

Went up trail 9, came down trail 4. It was a challenging hike, but totally worth the beautiful views! Not for beginners. It’s a hike up trail 9 but a nature walk down trail 4. Enjoy!

Awesome, tough hike. Not for beginners. Long and steep, but totally worth the work. The views are out of this world!

Great views! We did the loop from Trail 4 and back on and did the Little Devil's Tower as well. A little over 9 miles.

Awesome Hike on a beautiful day.
Went up on trail 9 and came back in trial 4.

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.

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.

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

hiking
1 month ago

This was a fun trail, although a bit scary for me because I have a fear of heights. It is definitely longer than 5.9 miles. I tracked almost 7. Enjoy

on Lookout Point Trail

hiking
1 month ago

Great hike. Nice views. We met up with 2 buffalo on our hiking trail, rubbing themselves on the trail markers, we got off the trail to keep our distance from them. Also a lot of prairie dogs

Steep hike need good grip on your shoes. Beautiful views as you go up. Great way to get out and feel the Badlands. To truly experience this place you have to hike it and the short trails are perfect to get out and see it! Bring water!

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!

very enjoyable. lots of shade, challenges and scenery.

hiking
1 month ago

My friend and I did this hike last Saturday (9/1) and it was truly magnificent!

We started our hike around 3:30 pm after having lunch and driving for about 6 and 1/2 hours from Denver. It took roughly 3 and 1/2 hours to complete, which was perfect, as we got to catch an unforgettable sunset at Saddle Pass.

Unlike where the trail starts on the map, we started our trek at the Saddle Pass Trailhead. This is a steep 0.35 trail that connects to Castle Trail from the main road. It was definitely the most challenging part of our hike, as the vast majority of the trail to follow was exceptionally flat and had very little elevation gain.

It was quite warm when we began our trek (mid 80's), but cooled off significantly in the afternoon with some cloud cover and light rain. The few rain drops that fell at sunset caused many of the tourists who made the short jaunt up the hill to scamper back to their cars. But we stuck it out for the five minutes of sprinkles, and were quickly rewarded with a breathtaking sunset all to ourselves.

We extended our trek slightly at the midway point of the loop to include the short walk over to the Window (0.2 miles) and Door (0.8) Trail viewpoints. All in all, our journey ended up being around 8 miles round trip, as opposed to the 10.5 it would have been to complete the Castle Trail in its entirety.

This is a fantastically challenging and beautiful hike! I would suggest starting where we did and completing the "Lollipop Loop", as one of the park employees called it, which includes the Saddle Pass Trail, Castle Trail and Medicine Root Loop.

hiking
1 month ago

Decent trail. Saw lots of prairie dogs and some bison. However, be careful following this map. It deviates from the official trail at the end by following the river- off trail instead of going up the hill.

hiking
1 month ago

Did this a couple weekends ago with a non-hiking friend and a dog, both of whom handled it well. Since it is out and back, the whole way there is uphill, but is a nice steady incline instead of any drastic ups and downs. There was a point when I wondered if we would ever get to the top, but once we finally did I was so enthralled with the view! Very nice trail with a few interesting rockslide areas along the way.

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