Route DescriptionThe Sunday Gulch Trail is somewhat unique for trails in the Black Elk Peak - Black Elk Wilderness area, in that it immediately descends for about a mile and a half from 6,145 feet to 5,700 feet on the trails low point, then loops back to the start. It is recommended to hikers to take a counter-clockwise route. But, this is not an enforced rule. Many hikers prefer the clockwise direction, since they find the footing to be safer going down the smooth trail on the western end of the loop, where they do not have to descend boulders, but can instead do the boulders going up on the eastern side of the loop. This is especially true when the boulders are wet. If you prefer to go the counter-clockwise loop, look for the narrow passage between high granite walls near the dam on Sylvan Lake. The other end of the loop is about 100 yards back toward the Sylvan Lake Store and behind a large granite outcropping. That trail comes out to a tiny bridge. Both trail heads on the loop are accessible from the 1-mile long Sylvan Lake Shoreline Trail. The trail is normally only open from June through October. Ice and snow on the boulders makes hiking any other time of the year rather hazardous. The trail loop is about 2.8 miles.
Essential GearJust the basics for a 2-hour hike - sturdy footwear with good grips, water, insect repellent, and maybe a hiking stick. The trail is pretty shady, so a hat or sunscreen may not be all that necessary. For camera buffs, there are some great opportunities along this trail.
Red TapeTo access Custer State Park, you must have either a daily or annual park permit. The park does not allow open fires or firearms. Camping is only in permitted areas. Please check at the entry station for the latest updated camping information. While some trails remain open all year, the Sunday Gulch Trail is closed in the winter.
Area CampingCuster State Parks offers lodges, cabins, RV sites, and tent sites at a variety of locations. You can get information or call in reservations at: (605) 255-4515 You can write for information at:
Custer State Park
HC 83, Box 70
Custer, SD 57730
Or you can click on one of the links below to view more on camping in Custer State Park or one of the nearby towns.
Information LinksCuster State Park
Custer Chamber of Commerce
Hill City Chamber of Commerce
Keystone Chamber of Commerce