Castle Trail is a 10.5 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Interior, South Dakota that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until October.

DISTANCE
10.5 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
314 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

birding

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

views

wild flowers

wildlife

over grown

rocky

no dogs

22 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.

hiking
28 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.

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.

2 months ago

We hiked the castle trail to the medicine trail. We had some trouble at the beginning of trail starting near the north entrance. There weren't enough trail markers--we would end up at an open area with no idea which way to go & ended up at a couple of dead ends. The rest of the trail was well-marked and a mostly easy hike. It took us 2:36 to hike out to Medicine, then come back along Castle (we didn't hike the whole castle).

hiking
2 months ago

Gorgeous trek! We were lucky that it had rained the previous night so there was water flowing in streams and it was still relatively cool. Lots of color in rock, grass and flowers. My daughter found many small fossils along the way. .

hiking
3 months ago

Great trail, was an awesome way to see the Badlands up close and personal. Canyons and formations you'd have no other way to see, plus some truly spectacular vistas over the Badlands if you venture off trail a bit - just be respectful of the wildlife and plant life if you do! Saddle Pass detour was totally worth it, great views and a fun little climb up one of the edges of the saddle. Medicine Root is a nice way to go back, you're up a little higher, so you don't do as much up and down and you can see more, so it's an overall faster trip. Did this in the middle of June and it got very warm after noon, so we were glad for the quicker trip back.

3 months ago

do the full trail. and loop up on the medicine trail to see more grass land

4 months ago

This is an interesting and beautiful hike. The terrain is not particularly challenging but the intense sunshine, heat and winds adds to it’s difficulty. Being plenty of water. Expect to lose sight of the markers and become disoriented. When that occurs, I recommend going back to the last maker and scan the horizon for then next one and all will be fine. This trial offers exceptional views of the rock formations, wildlife and prairie vegetation.

hiking
4 months ago

Took Saddle Pass to Medicine Root to this trail to return, doing a loop. Brings you up close to rock structures and canyons, at points slightly difficult to find markers but a truly enjoyable experience.

hiking
4 months ago

Flat and easy trail, but the heat and thunderstorm previous night made it difficult. Wonderful way to experience the Badlands.

hiking
4 months ago

It was pretty. We got beat up pretty good with heavy rains and heavy winds. We didn’t make it the entire trail. Camped one night and headed out

hiking
4 months ago

A little slippery with the mist/rain, but that made it more fun in my opinion. Only ended up doing about a mile out and a mile back due to time constraints, but would go back and do the whole thing! Great views and amazing landscape everywhere you look.

6 months ago

Easy, flat. You get a good look at some of the formations and Saddle Pass is a great point to stop for some pictures. Trail itself was pretty muddy in spots but nothing treacherous.

hiking
11 months ago

Beautiful sunny day to those who persevered the windstorm at the time. Big horned sheep were along the trail on the way back. Flat for nearly the whole stretch. Very enjoyable.

hiking
Monday, September 18, 2017

Lots of beautiful views of the Badland formations on a well marked and fairly easy trail. The only thing that makes it difficult is the heat which reached 103 the day we hiked. Saw a couple of mule deer. Overall enjoyable but wouldn't hike the full trail again unless as it gets somewhat monotonous on the way back.

Friday, September 15, 2017

This trail had amazingly beautiful views every way you turned. Seen big horned sheep multiple times.

hiking
Friday, September 15, 2017

This trail had amazingly beautiful views every way you turned. Seen big horned sheep multiple times.

Monday, September 11, 2017

We hiked from both trail heads 2 different days and hiked about 2.5 miles in each direction. East trailhead (near lodge) is along the base of high buttes with great views of formations. Some climbing. Trail markings red fiberglass poles regularly, but very easy to miss second pole at entrance because it is at top of a butte you have to climb to. We missed it and got very lost by following what we thought was another path. We would have bee in trouble if we had not downloaded trail on this app and used GPS. West entrance was even worse at beginning. Third trail pole is in middle of large open flat area and you can't see next marker which is high on top of butte. We again got lost. When you get to this third pole. Make hard right to left edge of butte and you will see path to left and up butte. Next couple of miles is easy path through grasslands and well marked. Gorgeous expansive views of formations and miles of prairie.

Bottom line: if you don't see red pole every 50-100 yards you are probably lost. Download map on app and take phone. Works even if no cell reception.

hiking
Monday, September 11, 2017

We hopped onto this trail from Saddle Pass. It is well marked and mostly flat so the walk was very enjoyable and scenic with views of tall rock formations, cactus, canyons, meadows and some wildlife! We went off trail often to explore rockier areas with canyon views. We ran across sheep and deer.

hiking
Tuesday, September 05, 2017

The best hike in the Badlands.

Being the longest trek, you have most of the trail entirely to yourself, giving you plenty of opportunities to soak in the Badlands unique geology and character. It carries you under the shadow of rocky spires and along endless stretches of golden prairie. There is shade to be found, but only if you start early/late enough in the day to let the sun sit on one side of the rocks. Even then, in the hotter months, this trail can be draining, so bring plenty of water.

It's not as spectacular as some of the formations you pass through on the Scenic Loop drive, but the Castle Trail is easily the most expansive and enjoyable hike in the Badlands.

hiking
Saturday, September 02, 2017

Nice hike but it was so hot! Not much shade for reprieve from the sun. Plan accordingly. The sun and heat made us more tired earlier than normal. Struggled a lot towards the end with energy. Saw big horn sheep twice.

hiking
Wednesday, August 23, 2017

This was a great trail, a little confusing starting out but well marked after that, it is easy hike but the hot dry terrain means you need lots of water & sunscreen-there is absolutely no shade for the 10mi hike so forget a rest break! Views are amazing, let's you get up close & personal with the badlands "castles'...

hiking
Sunday, July 02, 2017

Beautiful and easy trail that gives a less-travelled view of the rock formations. Bring extra water and sunscreen, especially on hot days. You won't find any shade on the trail, and the white ground at points reflects the sun and makes it feel like a desert hike.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

We only hiked a portion of this trail but it was still a highlight for us. We were able to get close to bighorn sheep!

hiking
Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Bring more water than you think you need, and plenty of sunscreen! Stunning yet accessible trail

Friday, April 14, 2017

well marked trail. it's a great combination of rolling plains to the north and the badlands to the south.

hiking
Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Only did a short portion, but found a set of fossilized teeth within a mile of the trail head. Super fun, but bring an extra set of clothes.

scenic driving
Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Beautiful! Highly recommend arriving right before sunset

hiking
Monday, January 09, 2017

Lots of chances to see wildlife. Get ready for lots of sun and danger of rattle snake.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

one of a kind rock formations

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