#1 of 13 state parks in South Dakota

Best nature trips trails in Custer State Park, South Dakota

2,959 Reviews
Explore the most popular nature trips trails in Custer State Park with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.
Map of nature trips trails in Custer State Park, South Dakota
Park information
Acreage:
71,000 acres
Park hours
Monday
6:00 am - 11:00 pm
Tuesday
6:00 am - 11:00 pm
Wednesday
6:00 am - 11:00 pm
Thursday
6:00 am - 11:00 pm
Friday
6:00 am - 11:00 pm
Saturday
6:00 am - 11:00 pm
Sunday
6:00 am - 11:00 pm
Contact
605.255.4515
Top trails (15)
#1 - Black Elk Peak Loop: South Dakota Highpoint
Custer State Park
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Length: 7.1 mi • Est. 2 h 51 m
Black Elk Peak Loop takes hikers to the highest point in South Dakota and offers incredible 360 degree views of the Black Hills. This granite 7,242 foot mountain lies in the beautiful Black Elk Wilderness and is a popular location for visiting geologists due to its very unique geological history. This trail starts in Custer State Park and travels into Black Elk Wilderness area. There is a historic stone firetower at the tip of the peak that is no longer in use but is open to the public for viewing. The peak is just a short distance from Mount Rushmore. Hikers will enjoy wildflowers during the spring and summer months as well as crystal rock formations along the start of the trail. There are also wild raspberries and blueberries along the route. Black Elk Peak - formerly Harney Peak - honors Black Elk, a noted Lakota Sioux medicine man for whom the Wilderness Area is named.Show more
#2 - Sunday Gulch Trail
Custer State Park
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Length: 3.9 mi • Est. 2 h 7 m
At the start there is a very rocky downward hike, the park service has provided handrails as you would likely struggle to climb down without them. Once you reach the bottom of this hike, you are treated to an awesome stroll along a creek with awesome views of the various rock formations. Dogs on leashes are okay, but be prepared to carry your dog at the start of the hike, as there are many areas that they need to jump down from. Show more
#3 - Lovers' Leap Trail
Custer State Park
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Length: 4.2 mi • Est. 2 h 7 m
#4 - Prairie Trail
Custer State Park
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Length: 2.1 mi • Est. 1 h 8 m
#5 - Custer State Park Wildlife Scenic Byway
Custer State Park
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Length: 18.0 mi
The Wildlife Loop Road is a picturesque 18 mile drive through open grasslands and pine-covered hills. Much of the park's wildlife can be spotted here, including bison, pronghorn, whitetail and mule deer, elk, coyotes, prairie dogs, eagles, hawks and a variety of other birds. Abundant wildflowers and prairie grasses add to the beauty of the area.Show more
#6 - Badger Clark Historic Trail
Custer State Park
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Length: 0.6 mi • Est. 15 m
#7 - Grace Coolidge Creek Trail
Custer State Park
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Length: 3.9 mi • Est. 1 h 43 m
#8 - French Creek Trail
Custer State Park
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Length: 12.8 mi • Est. 5 h 8 m
French Creek gently meanders through Custer State Park and French Creek Natural Area. The trail crosses the creek many times. In dry months, the first mile of creek from the east trailhead flows underground leaving a dry stream bed. The Narrows is where the creek inches together and access is limited to climbing over the cliff (a steep embankment of 60 feet) or swimming (100 feet) through the creek. Poison ivy is abundant all along the trail.Show more
#9 - The Lost Trails: Lower Loop (Lake Loop)
Custer State Park
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Length: 1.6 mi • Est. 39 m
The Lost Trails are a series of old trails that had been lost and forgotten for many years. Much of their history and routes are unknown but it is believed that they were constructed in the 1930's by the CCC. Only recently have portions of them been found. These trails feature stunning overlooks, unique rock steps and strenuous climbs. Approximately 2/3 of the marked trails are original but the remainder have been lost to time. Park staff have filled in the missing portions to the best of their ability. Maybe you can find the lost sections. This loop takes you around Center Lake and features a waterfall. Travel to Center Lake in Custer State Park, go through camping area and on to lake shore parking area (not the boat dock area). First part of trail is on a forest road following the overhead power lines, through the barriers. Follow forest road until you get to the river then travel up river until you find the wooden bridge over the river. From this point on follow the blue arrows along the well defined trail.Show more
#10 - Legion Lake Campground Trail
Custer State Park
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Length: 1.0 mi • Est. 38 m
To access this trailhead, park at the Legion Lake Lodge and walk across to the campground. Go to the back of the campground and the trailhead is near campsite 11 just to the right. Do not try and park in the back of the campground as the loop in the back must be kept open for trailers to turn around. The trail does have some steep sections but not much different than a lot a trails in the Black Hills. About halfway through the loop, the trail follows a steep ridge and there are great views of the surrounding hills, the plains stretching to the east, and a couple spots where Legion Lake below IS visible if you stop to look. A large part of recognizing views is simply taking the time to look for things. The trail is actually fairly well marked and in areas that aren’t as open or where there are multiple turns there are blue diamonds on the pines to follow at about 50yd intervals. Footing can be tricky on some sections with heavy pine needle coverage, so it’s a balance of watching your footing and looking up periodically to follow markers.Show more
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