Sunday Gulch Trail is a 3.9 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Custer, South Dakota that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking and nature trips and is best used from June until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 3.9 miles Elevation Gain: 797 feet Route Type: Loop

dogs on leash

hiking

nature trips

forest

lake

river

views

waterfall

rocky

scramble

fee

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.

hiking
1 day ago

Great early morning hike, slick but I’d rate moderate if in good shape. Beautiful

muddy
3 days ago

Go counter clockwise if you want more moderate. Clockwise if you want it strenuous. Took us 3 hours to complete.

hiking
5 days ago

Go CLOCKWISE---not CCW. Finish with the water-climb going up---Great way to end a scenic jaunt.

hiking
6 days ago

Awesome trail. Definitely do this trail clockwise. Really nothing bad I can say about this trail.

hiking
muddy
rocky
scramble
6 days ago

We took the loop west and saved the waterfall for the end. We’re really glad we did it this way. The first ~2/3rds of the trail was moderate and somewhat uneventful. The trail also stays fairly close (200 yards?) to a road for this portion as well. However, it’s a whole new scenery once you hit the waterfall. The waterfall climb is challenging and incredible. We had two in our group do it in tennis shoes, but you won’t regret boots. You’ll certainly get your feet wet. Awesome trail, super fun. 4 stars just because how close it was to the road.

hiking
flooded
rocky
6 days ago

Going clockwise was the way to go. I couldn’t imagine going down the flooded stairs and rocks. Oof. Pretty difficult trail but our 6 and 10 yr old did it just fine

hiking
7 days ago

We hiked clockwise as advised and are so glad we did! Fun trail, loved the end and climbing over the rocks and water. We hiked with a 14 yr old and 12 year old and they did just fine although there are a few uphill climbs! Very busy day at the lake! Ran into lots of people on the trail too.

hiking
7 days ago

really great trail to walk! we definitely suggest hiking this one clockwise to save the waterfalls for last! by far my favorite hike out here!

hiking
7 days ago

From Sylvan lake I hiked clockwise. After leaving the lake the trail is rather peaceful and calm. Once into the gulch, the water was flowing powerfully and the excitement level skyrocketed. The trail becomes rounded rocks and I was thankful for the handrails. There was a lot of water flowing down over the trail which made the rocks slippery. Very fun trail, but make sure you have both hands free to support yourself.

hiking
9 days ago

Great trail. Very fun and scenic

hiking
9 days ago

If you start the hike from the parking lot and go clockwise the ascent back up through the rolling creek on the stairs is a great way to finish, plus is more down hill at the start, one of the best trails in Custer.

hiking
10 days ago

Might be our favorite trail in Custer State Park. We’ve always went counter-clockwise until this time, in which we tried clockwise. Seemed much easier going clockwise IMO. We’ve also never gone this early in the season and the water rushing down the rocks made for a very FUN experience. Our girls, ages 9 & 11 absolutely love this hike. Took us about two and a half hours at a pretty relaxing pace. The only thing missing on this trail is a spectacular vista, obviously because you hike down into the gulch rather than up to a peak. But, this is a must-do along with Black Elk (Harney).

hiking
13 days ago

Incredible trail. Best views/experiences are towards both ends of the trail. We went clockwise, saving the waterfall for last. Going up the water seemed to be much more enjoyable. Went with wife, 8yo, and 10yo. They said it was the best trail we’d ever done.

hiking
20 days ago

Prepare to get your feet wet! The best/most interesting terrain to get through. Choose wisely which directions you want to go - upstream or downstream of the creek. About 3/4 of a mile is through leaping boulders and holding onto rails to assist getting through the water. Brought a 45 lb pitty pup through this - highly recommend going downstream, DO NOT put dog on leash, and help them get through. We had a harness we could lift her through the really dangerous jumps. Absolutely worth the adventure! And doggo was very happy.

hiking
27 days ago

I would do this one clockwise/backwards to save the water for the end! Love this trail.

hiking
icy
muddy
rocky
1 month ago

flooded
rocky
1 month ago

my absolute favorite! I found it just the right amount of tiring. has a little bit of everything for a hike. there are railings to help but a lot of parts where I felt I had to be methodical about where to step. my 2 corgis walk it just fine. you'll get wet. great place to take pictures. and after you work up a sweat jump in lake sylvan!

hiking
rocky
1 month ago

Beautiful hike! We didn’t think it was hard but very rocky at the end!

hiking
3 months ago

Awesome hike. We did it in Late June 2019. We started on the lake side and ended climbing the waterfall. It was quite a challenge for us since we are from the coastal plain of Alabama (sea level). Thank goodness for the handrails! We wished we lived closer. Can’t wait to do it again.

hiking
icy
snow
4 months ago

Started 2020 out right with a hike to the bottom of Sunday Gulch from the Sylvan Lake side and then back up and out on the ice again. Felt a little like an alpinist today. Yaktrax or Crampons are a must due to ice and snow. Challenging, beautiful and exhilarating, but doable.

hiking
icy
5 months ago

It was closed when we went due to Ice. I can’t wait to come back in the spring

hiking
6 months ago

combination hike, easy, moderate and hard and hiking shoes is advisable

hiking
7 months ago

Hiked this trail on 9/2/19. Trail was not crowded, we started by 7am, and saw no one else on the trail until we were finishing up around 1045 or so. Lots of fun features heading down the rocks and nice views along the whole trail. do this one! ($20 fee to access park, but plenty of parking and bathrooms were closed for season)

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