Hiking The Cairn Trail At Custer State Park
The Cairn Trail is a .3 mile loop trail located in Custer State Park. The trailhead can be found in the parking lot of the Peter Norbeck Outdoor Education Center. Dogs are allowed on trail as long as they are leashed.
It is one of the parks newest trails and gets it’s name from the stacked rocks, called Cairns, that can be found along the trail. Cairns are used as markers along trails to guide hikers to ensure they are taking the correct path.
The trail is a bit of a climb up to the ridge behind the center. It’s nothing too intense, but it is about 150 feet in elevation change in a short ascent. You are only on the ridge for a moment before a steep descent takes you back down and the trail ends behind the center. While on your hike you will witness the devastation caused by the Galena Creek fire of 1988.
Unless you are participating in the parks trail challenge I would skip this hike. The views from the top are mainly just the State Game Lodge and Grace Coolidge General Store below. There are some nice views of the Black Hills, but nothing spectacular. It’s not very exciting and there are much better hikes in the park to do.
If you have kids though I highly recommend checking out the Peter Norbeck Outdoor Education Center. It is a great little center aimed toward kids with a plethora of interactive activities for them. So skip the hike check out the center.