Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
127.00 ft (38.71 m)
Trail type
1.10 mi (1.77 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The 1.1-mile-long Sylvan Lake Shore Trail makes a complete loop around scenic Sylvan Lake in South Dakota’s Custer State Park. Sylvan Lake is located about 7 miles north of the city of Custer by the famous Needles Highway. There is a fee to enter Custer State Park. There are several places to park near Sylvan Lake including by the General Store and a large parking lot to the northeast of the lake. Dogs are allowed on the trail if on a leash.

The Sylvan Lake Shore Trail can be accessed from many locations and is easy to follow. Massive granite rock formations around portions of the lake provide stunning scenery for hikers. Most of the trail is quite flat with the exception of the northwest section of the trail. The northwest section requires some scrambling over some large boulders and some steps. There is also a tunnel to walk through on this section. The lake was created by a small dam; visitors are able to take a short walk onto the dam. The trail on the southwest side of the lake is wide with crushed gravel and is flat enough to accommodate strollers.

Sylvan Lake is a must stop for visitors to Custer State Park. Be prepared for crowds at this popular spot. A hike on the Sylvan Lake Shore Trail allows visitors to stretch their legs and view the picturesque Sylvan Lake.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)


Parking Pass

State Park Day-Use Fee

Open Year-round



Scenic views of Sylvan Lake and granite rock formations.


Can be crowded.

Trailhead Elevation

6,157.00 ft (1,876.65 m)

Highest point

6,211.00 ft (1,893.11 m)


Near lake or river
Family friendly
Geologically significant
Flushing toilets

Typically multi-day


Permit required



Nearby Lodging + Camping

Custer State Park, South Dakota


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