Hell Canyon Trail is a 5.6 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Custer, South Dakota that features a river and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is best used from June until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Length5.6 miElevation gain853 ftRoute typeLoop
Kid friendlyHikingCaveDog friendlyForestRiverViewsWildflowersWildlifeBugsRockyWashed out
Description
Waypoints (0)
Facilities
Getting There

parking for 4 vehicles

From Custer, go west to Jewel Cave National Monument. Continue west few miles to the sign along Highway 16.

Weather
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Daylight
Reviews (174)
Photos (298)
Activities (125)
Completed (298)
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Daniel Andress
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Hiking

Not too difficult but it has some challenging spots. The climb to begin clockwise was a wake up call lol

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Alan Patterson
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Hiking
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Kallyn Bloom
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Hiking

Favorite hike in the area, the cliffs are snow covered so wear good shoes and be prepared to slip. Grab a stick it helps!!

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Jana Manatee
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HikingGreat!

One of my favorite hikes. I did this trail in Nov and it was lovely. We went left at the beginning to do the incline first and get the “hell” part of the canyon over with faster - very glad we did. Really amazing views and well-maintained. It took us a good while with our toddler so I’m glad we brought a full picnic. I can imagine the canyon is buggy and hot in the summer, so this hike was ideal for early spring and late fall when things are dry. My toddler loved playing by the springs at the end of the hike and would have surely gotten in knee-deep if it had been warmer. We saw many beautiful small birds, eagles, hawks, and bighorn sheep.

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Arieal Defatta
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Hiking

ok let me say that my husband and I do go a little off trail. We take photos and collect rocks. We don't venture too far. But luckily we had on hats, because I happened to notice a tick on my backpack. Come to find out we killed over 20 ticks on us and our equipment at that moment. Not on our skin thank goodness. I would just be very careful because it can get crazy!!

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Ty Huber-Cordell-Shaw
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Hiking
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Jackson Aaberg
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Hiking

It's a very sobering hike across the incline. Seeing the damage from the 2000 fires but how things have grown back is a different change of pace. There's not much to look at though, but the second half of the trail (if you go clockwise) is nice and scenic. There's still plenty of ice and the close encounters with rams made it precarious and interesting. Not a favorite, but worth doing.

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H B
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HikingIcyMuddyNo shade

Well marked and has a parking lot. Trail was easy to follow. Started left through what used to be a forest. Gets better after the first mile or so. Glad we didn’t turn around! Worth the hike,. I would not do this on a hot day as there is very little shade. Right now there is a lot of mud and ice so make sure you’ve got the right gear. Enjoy!

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Zeus & Hiker L
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HikingGreat!Muddy
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Seth Emond
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Hiking
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Mike Deal
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Walking
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Al Rise
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Hiking
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Collin Pickerd
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Hiking
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Ann Canessa
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Hiking

Definitely go to the left. It’s a little baron at first due to the lack of trees from the fire in 2000 but it does get better! The hike along the top edge/rock formations is amazing.

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Scott Gandrud
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Hiking
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Gary Myers
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HikingGreat!Rocky

My wife and I did this about a week ago. Start to the left and go CLOCKWISE if you want to get the major climbing done first. Then the last half of the hike is along a creek. Beautiful views, rock formations and fall colors. Heartbreaking to see what the Jasper fire of 20 years ago did. Just remember to be careful out there people.

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chandra mengel
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This hike ended up being way better then I expected. Definitely take the upper level first by taking the trail to the left. The canyon portion is a fantastic payoff. Really beautiful in the fall. You could definitely do the canyon portion in and out of you are looking for something easier.

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Hillary Dobbs-Davis
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HikingNo shade

I’d echo what most other folks have said and recommend starting to the left to get the “hell” portion out of the way first. It’s a great fall hike with some beautiful foliage and stunning overlook views. I saw dogs on the trail, but I don’t know if I’d take mine, as the drop offs are steep, and the path could be hard on their paws.

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Alisha Riemenschneider
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Hiking

Awesome fall hike. Headed clockwise which was nice since you do the steep ascent first. For the first part of the hike you walk along the top of the canyon where there are beautiful vistas. Then you descend into the canyon. The colors were amazing - red, yellow, orange and green leaves. Lots of rock outcroppings and even a stream to hop across a few times. Two experienced hikers completed in 2 hours. Wouldn’t want to do in the summer time since the upper portion doesn’t offer any shade.

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Mark Epp
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Hiking
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Bill Brown
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Hiking

Trail does not allow dogs.

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Michael Collins
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HikingGreat!

Marvelous trail! Take it counterclockwise and get the steep ascent done early. It offers a variety of views and terrain. The last 3 miles go along the base of the canyon, and involve a few manageable water crossings. One of the best trails I’ve ever hiked.

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Bud Tanton
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HikingGreat!
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Sarah Dickson
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Hiking

We took note of previous tick warning, used both an essential oil insect repellent blend as well as deet based spray and didn’t get a single tick. Beautiful trail, although much more exposed and very little shade

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Jamie Lynn
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 2, 2020
Hiking

Totally agree with what others have said. Hike the trail clockwise. Gorgeous views! The scenery is always changing. The weather is perfect right now, as well as the trail conditions. There are a few water crossings, but super easy to jump from rock to rock. I felt a few of the areas at the top of the canyon had some steep drop off’s, so as a mom I would be a little cautious with kids under five. However, you do you! Overall, great hike! Definitely recommend.

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Adam Earle
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HikingGreat!

Loved it. Originally had only planned to walk to the overlook but never really found it so I ended up walking the loop. There are no signs on the trail for the overlook, CCC camp, or spring box. I was annoyed by this at first but the lower canyon section was enchanting and the pine aroma was incredible. One of my favorite black hills hikes.

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