Strolling Around Sylvan Lake
The Sylvan Lake Shore Trail is an easy, family-friendly 1 mile loop around the absolutely breathtaking Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park.
This is one of the most accessible and popular trails in the park with less than 100 feet of elevation gain. Like all trails located inside the park this one is also pet friendly. Out of the 9? trails we did during our visit this was our favorite hike in the park. It should be on the top of everyone’s to-do list when they visit.
Massive granite formations line portions of the lake making it one of the most picturesque places we encountered in the Black Hills. The views around the entire are lake are just incredible.
Most of the trail is pretty flat, but there are a few steps and at the back of the lake are exposed rock areas you must traverse. Nothing serious though so don’t worry. This back area also contains a number of large boulders that give your little ones (or yourself) the prefect opportunity to do a little rock scrambling.
One of my favorite parts was the “floating” rocks that took you to the bridge overlooking the dam. Dexter use to have the worse time walking over rocks for water crossings. Now he’s an old pro.
The cool old bridge is suspended above the lake between two rocks. Look over the edge and you can see the back end of the dam that formed this lake. It was dry when we visited, but supposedly after a heavy rain water can be viewed flowing down.
There are some large rock formations on one side of the lake perfect for the brave-hearted to climb up and be rewarded with some spectacular views. Make sure you leave at least one friend at the bottom to take pics, because it’s guaranteed to provide you with some pretty epic photo-ops. I’m sure selfies from the top would be quite impressive as well.
In this same section one particular rock has a hole in it and we witnessed a number of peeps walking behind it to stick their face through. There was a line so I didn’t get the opportunity, but it looked like a lot of fun.
Want to cool off after your hike no problem! There is a beach on the lake for swimming.
You can also kayak, canoe and paddleboard on Sylvan Lake. No equipment, no problem. You can rent some right there.
If you just want to relax and take in the views there are multiple areas around the lake to sit down and do just that.
If you like to fish you can do that too (with a proper fishing license of course).
Toward the back of the lake near the dam stands a massive rock wall. This happens to be a popular spot for rock climbers. We saw a couple climbers there when we walked by. I don’t know the requirements for this activity, but I’m sure if you’re interested a stop into a visitor center would get you the information you need.
So I can’t recommend walking the Sylvan Lake Shore Trail enough. It’s just an absolutely all-around great trail. It’s an easy fun adventure for the whole family. And the views just can’t be beat! It’s is one of my favorite trails that we have hiked this year and we hike a lot.
If you’re up for even more adventure the trailhead for the Sunday Gulch Trail can be found near the dam behind the lake. Though not as pretty as the lake it’s another great hike with an interesting aspect all it’s own.