The Best Day Hike You Can Take With Your Dog In South Dakota

Trail 9: Black Elk Peak Trail
Custer State Park • Custer

General George Armstrong Custer headed an expedition into the Black Hills in 1874, then considered one of the last unexplored regions of the United States. Custer and his men discovered gold and the region was a secret no more. Precious metals are just part of the cornucopia of riches found in the Black Hills. Custer State Park, the largest state park in the continental United States, supports its 73,000 acres without government money.

One of the best places to begin exploring this vast outdoor playground with Seaman are the trails around Sylvan Lake, a calendar cover-worthy pool of water flanked by giant granite boulders that formed when Theodore Reder dammed Sunday Gulch in 1921. A pleasant one-mile loop circumnavigates the lake and offers plenty of dog-paddling along the way.

Sylvan Lake is also a popular jumping off point to climb Black Elk Peak, at 7,242 feet the highest point in America east of the Rocky Mountains. The most traveled route to the summit is on Trail 9, an 8-mile round trip through Ponderosa pines, spruce, and aspen. There is some rock scrambling near the top but Seaman can make it all the way and even go up the steps into the abandoned stone fire tower. Native stone was hauled to the summit for construction during the mid-1930s. Views from the craggy open summit - the mountain has over 2,900 feet of prominence - reach into four states, including the world’s largest buffalo herds that graze in the park.

HIKING TIME: 3-4 hours

(from the book 300 Day Hikes To Take With Your Dog Before He Tires You Out: Trails where you won’t be able to wipe the wag off your dog’s tail)


Hiking With Your Dog In South Dakota