Sunday Gulch Trail

MODERATE 121 reviews
#3 of 11 trails in

Sunday Gulch Trail is a 4 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near East Custer, South Dakota that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and trail running and is best used from June until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
4.0 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
797 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dogs on leash

hiking

trail running

forest

lake

river

views

waterfall

rocky

scramble

Sunday gulch is a moderate to strenuous hike right next to Sylvan lake. 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. 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.

hiking
26 days ago

Amazing trail. Did it get n November so a little slick in spots, but overall top notch

hiking
1 month ago

Lovely trail - views, forest, streams and took us under two hours walking in light snow. Wasn’t great for the dog however - lots of difficult, slippery rock-hopping, aided by (much-needed) handrails.

hiking
1 month ago

Numerous beautiful terrains. It was a great hike to take in the scenery. It'll work your legs, so be prepared!

hiking
2 months ago

We took our two dogs clockwise on the trail, moderate difficulty as described was accurately so....until we approached the base of the staircase. It was HARD. We physically had to lift/ assist our 50 and 60 lb dogs across the rough boulders, ice, and freezing water that lay at our feet. If it was just us- no problem- but you WILL have to carry your dog at some point, also- felt more like 8 miles. One of the more technical trails to traverse with a dog.

hiking
2 months ago

Great hike - my nephew who was 5 at the time loved it for 3/4s of the hike and then said it got a little long toward end. I would say that parts of the trail could be considered hard, and allow more time for the trail than you would think.

hiking
2 months ago

Recommend wearing pants lots of vegetation this hike would be tough on a hot day thankfully it was in the 50s the scenery is beautiful. I would try this hike again

hiking
2 months ago

I'm glad to see that the 20-somethings said they underestimated this hike. We are 60, and we walk miles at home on a flat rail trail, brisk pace, and have recently hiked the Mighty Five in Utah. We were ultimately glad we did Sunday Gulch, but it took three hours when we thought it would take two, and the boulder climbing at the end with rails is LONG. We were wrung out when it was over but felt like we had accomplished something! Some of the boulders were waist-high on me, so you are definitely pulling yourself up for close to an hour at the end of the hike! We were pushing darkness and wondered if we would make it out before dark! So just allow plenty of time. And wear long pants. The trail is very narrow in a lot of parts with lots of vegetation brushing against your legs. We really enjoyed the views at the beginning, so if you don't want to tackle the whole thing, I would recommend starting the route clockwise--then turn around and go back when it levels out. Then you wouldn't have to do the boulder climbing, but you would also miss the waterfalls and walking across logs to get over small streams. Expect some mud.

hiking
2 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

A narrow, moderately-difficult trail that rewards hikers willing to looks closer for the details.

Both sides of the trail are fairly steep, but one side has you scrambling over granite boulders (and white-knuckling the hand-rails), closely guarded by the cliffs, while the other winds between ponderosa pines and has a couple views out into the rest of the hills.

It lacks sweeping views, and its proximity to the road may occasionally disturb the peace, but this trail shines in the details. Tiny wildflowers, flecks of moss, and busy insects dot the trail with color. Reward yourself after this hike with a spot at the lake.

hiking
3 months ago

Amazing

hiking
3 months ago

Great hike. Kids had fun going down the gully section with the hand rails (went counter clockwise).

3 months ago

more than expected.

hiking
4 months ago

Great hike! Can get steep in spots, but still really cool!

4 months ago

Absolutely beautiful, well marked, plenty of areas to explore off trail, you can swim in the lake afterwards if it's really hot out, there were plenty of families out with kids of all ages. I would rate it between moderate and hard.

4 months ago

Beautiful hike, but not for small children or people who have bad knees, hips. Lots of climbing. Bountiful wildflowers along the way. Creative stream crossings. Definetly worth your time. Would recommend doing the trail counter clockwise for better views.

hiking
4 months ago

I love this trail, but we underestimated it. For this area of South Dakota, it could very easily be rated as "difficult" rather than "moderate."

4 months ago

Loved this trail! It will be more than moderately difficult for some and not recommended for pets or young children! If you have either of those, stick to Sylvan Lake trail adjacent to it. Also, I didn't encounter any poison ivy as someone mentioned previously. I just hit this trail on 7/19.

hiking
4 months ago

Loved this! Do this counter-clockwise, so that you he climb down at the beginning and the more gradual ascent is the latter 2/3 (although even that is a lot of up-and-down). We loved the boulders w/ stream, the creek bed and the granite-gravel trail--all with gorgeous views of the spires in surrounding hills. Like said below, not for dogs or small ones, but all others will love this trail :-)

5 months ago

There is a TON of poison ivy. I would definitely recommend bringing dove soap along and wash off when done hiking. Besides the poison ivy, my family enjoyed it. There is a lot of climbing in the last part so keep that in mind. Our favorite part was definitely the first part with the rocks and the mini waterfalls.

5 months ago

great hike - beautiful scenery, diversity in activity on the trail, some wildlife (cute, not scary) and you can grab a drink at the lodge when you are done. I would rate this on the more difficult end of moderate and would advise against it for most dogs, young children or people with mobility issues.

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