The clear mountain waters are inviting, and the open ranges are waiting to be discovered. Bring your family to Custer State Park, and let yourself run wild. Custer State Park in the Black Hills encompasses 71,000 acres of spectacular terrain and an abundance of wildlife. Within the park, you'll discover a world of adventure!
We did this trail in the winter, when the trail was snow covered. The trail is well marked, but we still managed to lose it and ended up wayyyyyy off track after we didn't follow the trail (and markers) through the other side of the fence and followed buffalo tracks instead. fun trail, once we found our way back, with a variety of scenery.
A little bit of work to get to the top, but well worth it, followed by an easy stroll through some gorgeous scenery. the first half mile isn't for the faint of heart but it can be conquered by just about anyone, and the view from the top will leave you Happy you put the work in.
Not too difficult of a hike, but if you're not used to the elevation, you might feel a little winded. Most of the hike is on a well-travelled path that is easy to follow. I went on a weekday, and there weren't that many people there. There is very little shade and it was around 80 degrees the other day, so I was hot, but it was cooler higher up. I found the hike a little boring at first, except that the view at the end made it totally worth it. Be prepared for some rock climbing at the end...I'm not that incredibly fit, but I found it completely doable with a good pair of hiking shoes.
I really liked the variety of scenery and trail features. After walking past Sylvan Lake, I chose to go clockwise on the loop, as some of the other people have suggested here, and I'm glad I did it that way. Towards the end of the trail, the path guides you between an area of large boulders with a small creek running through it. There are handrails for you to hold onto since you have to climb over some smaller boulders and occasionally some steep steps to get through it. If you were going counterclockwise, you'd have to go down them, and I imagine it gets slippery at times. It's more strenuous going up them, but personally I like having the more challenging uphill parts at the end of a trail when I'm more loosened up...but that's me. Plus, they're beautiful to look at and a beautiful way to end the hike. Just make sure you have good hiking shoes. Starting clockwise, you're near the boulders at first and then start going down in elevation into mostly a forest area, sometimes going near the highway. The trail is considered 'strenuous' in the Custer State Park guide, probably because of the rocky terrain. The trail is narrow and windy, with you often having to walk over rocks and tree roots and occasionally having to climb over small boulders. To me, that just made it more fun, because I get bored easily. I encountered a few other hikers, but was by myself for most of it. There are also some good picture-taking opportunities, but I unfortunately didn't have a decent camera with me. Overall, I really enjoyed myself and would go again, but I'm only in the area for a short while longer and want to try out other trails. :)
Pretty hike. The first 3/4 mile was a steady steep ascent, definitely a butt buster. The view is gorgeous. Once you leave the lookout its an easy walk. You eventually run into water which you cross several times on planks. Great place for the dogs to cool off. A recommended not to difficult hike.