Creekside Lodge + cabins open for winter stays. All other lodges closed for the season. Season 2024 open date: April 26.
So many species roam free in the wildlife preserve of Custer State Park. Miles of trails and backcountry roads are yours to explore with them.
The Best of Black Hills Hiking Awaits
Hiking draws enthusiasts from far and wide to the Black Hills and Custer State Park is home to some of the most memorable hikes. Hike along lakeshores, spelunk over boulders, or look up admire the grand pines and aspens that blanket the hills. The best hiking in the Black Hills awaits at Custer State Park.
Hikes in the Park
The Black Hills is a hotspot for hiking in South Dakota. Custer State Park features some of the best trails for hikers of all abilities. Scamper over boulders in Sunday Gulch near Sylvan Lake, admire the Ponderosa Pines along Lover's Leap, or take a lazy stroll along Stockade Lake.
Explore Custer State Park's guide to the best hikes and begin planning.
Black Elk Peak via Harney Peak Trail is a 6.4 mile loop trail in Custer State Park, offering the highest available views of the rocky land that makes up the Black Hills and also includes a heart-pumping incline to a historic stone fire tower at the top. Your starting point for this trail is at popular Sylvan Lake that offers stand-up paddling, kayaking and canoe rentals. Find Trail 9, which begins just across the footbridge leading to the swimming beach. Plan 4-5 hours for this trail, and the lakeside store is available for snacks, gifts & lunch.
Also located at Sylvan is the shorter and more moderate hike to Cathedral Spires. This 1.6 mile trail winds through beautiful pine forest before reaching a rocky outcropping that leads you to an up close look of the Cathedral Spires. This trail is a great one if you are looking for something shorter that will offer beautiful views of the Black Hills and surrounding prairie-lands.
Length: 1.6 miles, one way Time: 2 hours Difficulty: Strenuous
Lover’s Leap Trail
This 3 mile loop at the State Game Lodge is the perfect trail to explore for wildflower viewing and it overlooks some of the top sites in Custer State Park. The trail has multiple creek crossings and a steep ascent to the top of a rocky outcrop that gives you views of Black Elk Peak, Cathedral Spires and Mount Coolidge. “According to folklore, a Native American woman and her lover jumped to their deaths from the summit of this hike” which is how the trail earned its name. Enjoy beautiful scenery and a moderately challenging hike in the heart of Custer State Park.
Length: 3 miles Time: 2-3 hours Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous
Sunday Gulch Trail is a 2.8-mile loop and many find it to be Custer State Park's prettiest. This trail starts our near Sylvan Lake, but it takes you through a rocky outcropping with a rather steep descent in the beginning of the hike (handrails to help you down the rocks). Once you reach the bottom, the trail offers creekside access and up-close views of the cascades behind the lake. Hike through what almost feels like three different beautiful worlds along the way! The trailhead is reached by following the Sylvan Lake Trail behind the dam to the top of Sunday Gulch.
Length: 2.8 miles Time: 2-3 hours Difficulty: Strenuous
As the largest cabin on property at Sylvan Lake, our Cathedral Spires Cabin has it all. A designer kitchen, a beautiful, private backyard patio surrounded by the spires, and all four bedrooms offer en suite baths.