Hiking the Hills!
September 21, 2021

This itinerary will suggest hikes to do throughout the Southern Black Hills based on your skill and endurance level. Let’s get started!

DAY ONE: Black Elk Peak

 Start off by visiting Sylvan Lake in the morning. A nice stroll out and back near the lake is relaxing and will take about an hour. There are many activities from fishing, to renting a kayak or paddle board, and rock climbing! Be sure to allocate your energy accordingly!

Mid Morning/Early Afternoon: Custer State Park: Black Elk Peak (aka Harney Peak)

Distance: 7.6 Miles Out and Back Hike - Elevation Gain: 1,000-2,000 Feet

Hike Time: 4-6 hours

Level: Moderate, however bring LOTS of water and snacks.

Dogs: Allowed on leash

*Plan to take the majority of the day doing this hike. Be sure to leave time to get back before dark.

Black Elk Peak is THE hike to do when you’re visiting the Hills. It does take some time and all members of your party need to be in good physical shape to accomplish. There is a 1,000-2,000-foot elevation gain bringing you to 7,242 feet above sea level, so visitors living at lower elevations, be prepared. The views are breathtaking at the top so don’t forget your camera/phone! You may even be able to see Mt. Rushmore!

Late Afternoon/Evening: When you return be sure to grab some ice cream as a reward from the gift shop! Grab some dinner in Custer and get some sleep, tomorrows going to be another BIG day!

For more information and directions please visit:

Day Two: Lovers Leap Trail

 Drive the Custer State Park Wildlife Loop and see the different varieties of wildlife, from bison, elk, prairie dogs, and the elusive Beggin’ Burros!

Mid-Morning/Afternoon: Custer State Park - Lovers Leap Trail - The trailhead is located behind the old schoolhouse, which is across from the Peter Norbeck Visitor Center on Highway 16A.

Distance: 4.2 Mile Loop - Elevation Gain: 626 feet

Hike Time: 2-3 hours

Level: Moderate

Dogs: Allowed on leash

This moderate hike takes you to a beautiful overlook of Custer State Park and the beautiful Black Hills. This trail loop will ensure you get lots of different views of the hills. The start of the hike immediately gains some vertical making it intimidating at first, but it mellows out. Keep your eyes out for mountain goats and snakes.

Afternoon/Evening: Come back to Custer and grab a treat! You’ve earned it!

For more information and directions please visit:

Day Three: Sunday Gulch Trail

 Start off by doing a short hike up to the Custer sign lookout called “Big Rock.” This moderate short hike starts from the base of Custer on the West end of Harbach Park and goes all the way up to the top of the mountain for a fantastic overview of Custer! There is a picnic table at the top, so grab some breakfast and have a picnic outdoors!

Mid-Morning/Afternoon: Sylvan Lake – Sunday Gulch Trail – Reach the trailhead by following the Sylvan Lake Trail behind the dam to Sunday Gulch

Distance: 3.9 Mile Loop - Elevation Gain: 797 feet

Hike Time: 2-3 hours

Level: Difficult

Dogs: Allowed on leash – However, be sure your dog is nimble and not elderly, or you may be carrying them over rocks in sections. Be safe!

Late Afternoon/Evening: Take a drive through Needles Highway and enjoy the scenery. Get out and take some pics of the places you’ve been!

For more information and directions please visit:

*Please note there are NO restrooms on the hikes listed above. Be sure to use the restroom before you go and PACK OUT any waste you produce (Toilet paper, wrappers, cans, etc.) to keep the area beautiful. Stay on the trails as well to reduce impact to the natural environment! Thank you!


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