Hiking Tips
Written by Dolsee Davenport
March 12, 2018

With the first day of spring right around the corner and having more daylight each day, we think it's a great time to get outside for a hike and enjoy all that this area has to offer.  The southern Black Hills has so many trails you will never be bored and will get to see some beautiful scenery in the process.  However, there are some things to keep in mind when enjoying the great outdoors:

  1. Be aware of elevation changes.  Some of the best hikes in the Custer area will involve steady increases in altitude.  Custer City is a little higher than Denver.  If you're not use to higher elevation and thinner air, even an avid walker or hiker may experience difficutly catching his or her breath while on the trail.  The best thing to do-take deep breaths, make frequent stops, and take your time.

  2. There's nothing like a morning hike.  In the summer especially, hikers should hit the trails in the morning because of the cooler weather.  By rising early, you'll also avoid afternoon showers that are common during the summer months.  Plus, hiking the Cathedral Spires from the Needles Highway and catching the sunrise is an experience that's difficult to forget.

  3. Stay hydrated!  Water will play an integral role in your hiking experience.  Pack plenty of water as there are typically not safe water sources along the trails.  The guideline is one liter per person for 2-3 hours.  Althought water may make for a heavy load, it can help greatly with exhaustion and hiking at higher altitudes.  

  4. What should I bring?  Dressing in layers will allow you to adapt to the changes in weather and as you change elevations.  Also, a rain jacket is good to bring if hiking in the afternoon.  Sunscreen, hat, and appropriate shoes (hiking boots or sturdy tennis shoes) will make for a more enjoyable experience on the trails.

  5. You may encounter wildlife.  The Black Hills are home to many different animals, small and large.  Chances are you may encounter wildlife wherever you hike.  The good news is most wildlife found on the trails are small creatures such as marmots and prairie dogs.  However, you may see buffalo if hiking in Custer State Park.  If you come across these massive animals, be cautious and avoid sudden movements.  If necessary, do your best to move around them and leave them alone.  They are easily spooked and can be aggressive especially during rutting (mating) season or if calves are present.
    If you're in need of maps or directions, stop in and see the helpful staff at the Visitor Information Center!

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