Explore the most popular birding trails near Custer with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Really great, varied hike BUT be prepared for POISON IVY. If you travel the loop clockwise you will start with a steep ascent and then for the rest of the trail you'll be level, with occasional ups and downs, and gradual descent. During the second part of the hike, you cross a stream several times and in these low lying areas, poison ivy is everywhere and the trail is not well maintained so the ivy encroaches on the trail. Wear pants or at least gators. Also - note that the blue diamond blazes as you approach the main road (clockwise) do not match the marked trail on All Trails layer. The trail on the map appears to go towards the road and then you travel on a path along the road. However the blue diamond blazes follow a path farther from the road and a bit uphill. Just be aware of the discrepancy.

Great variety of terrain. Easy up and down for moderately fit. Poles and two waters suggested.

A mixture of everything including POISON IVY.. Trail really WELL MARKED. Continuing along the creek with crossovers. Fun to see the fresh Buffalo tracks and droppings on the trail and where I might see him. I very much enjoyed walking along and looking down at different fragments of stone catching the morning sun. I met a fewfolks out later in the am, including a older guy ( guessing 70 ) from Rapid City out for a run on the trail with his dog. I’ve never gotten poison ivy before and as I was wearing shorts and low cut socks I really was wondering if my time had finally come as it really was unavoidable. Happy to report I didnt. I would like to take my dogs next time! August 12, 2018

Beautiful and challenging hike. Some steep inclines. Beautiful scenery the entire way. Aside from the Black Elk overlook, there is another peak path that offshoots from the main path that contains some scampering opportunities. Good times all around. Do this trail.

hiking
7 days ago

The best part of lovers leap trail was the views from the top. Wow!!!! If you want to shorten your hike, when you get to the split go left. When you get to the viewpoint turn and go back. By going right you will see a cool stream, perfect for dipping your toes. We saw a deer in this portion. There is a lot of poison ivy on the stream side of the trail. Wear long socks.

With every step, you felt closer to Mother Earth. The stream crossings, the rolling prairie filled with wild flowers, cactus, grasshoppers, were a sight to behold. We saw lots of prairie dogs and heard coyotes in the distance. Buffalo were in the area but we didn’t see any. The warm breezes were so beautiful and peaceful. A comfortable hike. Just over 2 miles. Cannot rate easy because of the hills, and some lack of shade.

Beautiful view at top!

Did this trail in reverse, up 9 and down 4. #9 was wide and in great condition; amazing views. #4 was narrow and less traveled but with some beautiful views of the Cathedral Spires. Took it slow and easy with my 4 year old hiking alongside. Round trip was about 4 hours.

One of the best hikes in the Black Hills.

hiking
13 days ago

Worth it.

Great trail with beautiful views. I did this with my 63 year old parents and while it did take a bit longer than expected everyone enjoyed it. Not much shade after the first couple of miles, so be prepared. I recommend packing a lunch and bringing plenty of water. Several great places near the fire tower at the summit to sit, eat and enjoy the views.

Did this trail and loved it. Great views

First time out there and trail 9 was everything we hoped it would be! Come prepared for some mud and an afternoon thunderstorm

hiking
19 days ago

There are 2 Legion Lake Trails. One, the one I believe listed here, starts at the Legion Lake Campground travels straight up for 1/2 mile and then loops back down for 1/2 mile. There is no view at the top. The trees are tall and all you can see is trees, no lake. Kind of disappointing. 5 year old did not like this hike! 7 & 9 tolerated it because they are old enough to know that one foot in front of the other is the best way through it. Also it's not always easy to see the trail but the markers are easy to follow. That was a good lesson for the kids. Sometimes you have to look up to see the trail! The Legion Lake trail around Legion lake is a nice little stroll. When we'd head to the swim beach we'd go right from the entrance, around the lake, over the little dam and then to the swim beach. This is easy and pretty and gives a variety of views of the lake.

What a great hike! I began at 5:45 pm tonight and made it up #4 in exactly 90 minutes (didn’t stop). I took #9 down and made it back with 45 minutes of daylight. The hike was worth every minute, and I only saw a total of six people on the entire hike.

This was an amazing trail to hike! My father and I spent the morning of our trip to the black hill here and couldn’t have asked for a better trail.

Beautiful trail with some picturesque views. We started out using Trail 4 from Sylvan Lake and looped around, coming back Trail 9 ending at Sylvan Lake. It took us 3.5 hrs (started at about 12:30p local) with several stops to complete our hike around the loop. Trail varies from rocky to mushy to dry and flat.
Well worth the hike. Come prepared for an afternoon thunderstorm that will last 1-3 hrs (we got the 2 hr variety). I am a fan of trekking poles and they helped greatly to negotiate the steep rocky inclines. As many others have noted, parking at Sylvan Lake can be problematic.

Very busy trail, but it is vacation season right now and also a weekend. Planning to go again closer to fall when there will hopefully be a few less people. This was a really enjoyable trail. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to enjoy the views since it was so foggy. Just an extra reason to go back!

Great trail. Only problem was it was very populated. Go early to avoid growds. Took us 2.5 hours round trip. We had a good steady pace on the way up. On the way down we had to stop to let people by far too many times. Have fun.

Such a fun trail. We arrived at 8:00, the parking lot was already about 1/3 full. We did trail 9 up and 4 back with our 5 kids. The way up to the fire tower was very muddy, but had beautiful sweeping views of the valley below. Lots of wonderful photo opportunities. Gypsum and quartz lined the trails and made the trail glitter in the sunlight. The fire tower itself was really fun to explore as well as the surrounding rocky area/boulders at the top. Trail 4 on the way back had less mud and more wildflowers. There were lots of wild raspberries lining the trail to graze on as we went.

Very rocky paths which turn to streams after rainfall. You may wish to time your hike around storms.

Very nice views across the rolling prairie hills! Wildflowers were beautiful! About halfway round we ended up in buffalo territory fortunately they were to the right where the trail turned left. We could certainly hear and smell them though! Great quick outing 1~1.25 hour trip!

Nice trail with great views from the outcrop. Creek hopping was fun! Some grasses grow so against the side of the trail and have poison ivy - Watch out!

great hike - LOTS of poison ivy by the creek though...

Hiked 7/19/18, left around 8 AM and parking lot was about half full. Took about an hour an a half up. I was a little confused, but you CAN swim at the top. Water is VERY cold but we also just got a lot of rain. Hopefully will warm up in a few days. Bring plenty of water 2-3 at least.

hiking
1 month ago

Nice, well marked trail through terrain which included prairie, wooded areas and hills. Beautiful scenery!! Prairie was in full bloom and the smells were wonderful.
Recommend hiking the trail counterclockwise which allows the longest and steepest grade to be downhill for the last portion of hike.
Make sure you have a camera to capture wildlife. Please remember it's Wildlife which means you may see some or maybe not, but it's there. More than likely they are watching you.

This is my third trip up the north side, more challenging and scenic than the Sylvan Lake Approach. Approx. 6-7 Hours up and back...and three bottles of water plus a Gatorade at the finish. Very hot, and a steady climb. Saw two other couples on the entire trek. Great views and places to eat lunch. A lot of horse droppings and the constant helicopters on their way to Mt. Rushmore made me feel like an ex-con on the run. Well worth it, only one stream and with all the horse activity I would be hesitant to drink even treated water.

Did this trail in 3 1/2 hours. Amazing views from the top. Bring sun screen!

Nice easy walking trail. Up and back in under 2.5 hours. Beautiful view from the Harney Peak lookout, worth the trek utilizing trail 9

Great hike and we had fun keeping track of where we were in relation to the top of the mountain. I believe we took trail 9 and it was less busy but still passing people on the trail. Worth it for the view!Bring lots of water and a nice snack to munch on at the top - lots of places to sit and eat. Also I had 4 bars of service! Guess no obstruction to the towers.

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