This 3.1-milerin the northwest corner of Custer State Park begins at the Sylvan Lake Trailhead and follows the blue-blazed Trail #4 around colossal boulders and ponderosa pine to the Little Devils Tower Trailhead. Start at this alternate location to shorten the roundtrip by an easy mile. Snaking eastward through quaking aspen and Black Hills spruce, the trail follows a babbling brook and splits in another half mile. This route follows the well-marked lefthand trail toward Little Devils Tower, turning sharply uphill and becoming increasingly rocky underfoot before taking a sharp left though an impressive, cave-like crack that flanks the trail.
Keep an eye on the blue blazes ahead: they mark the scramble through granite clefts and the final ramp to the peak. The summit greets with jaw-droping views of the Cathedral Spires to the southeast and equally stellar of Mt. Rushmore’s backside, the Black Elk Wilderness, and the brick fire-tower atop 7,242-foot Harney Peak just one mile to the north.
For a full-day adventure—and to make the most of the $12.00, 7-day vehicle fee—plan to spend some time at the swimming beach and loop trail around Sylvan Lake before hitting the road.
-Mapped by Steve Johnson
TO TRAILHEAD: Take US-16 through Custer, turning left onto Sylvan Lake Road. Drive 6 miles and turn right onto SD-87. In 0.3 miles turn left into Custer State Park and proceed 0.2 miles to the Sylvan Lake Trailhead Parking area.
Little Devils Tower
Distance: 3.15 mi
Total Time: none
Speed: 0.0 mph
Pace: 0:00 / mi
Active Time: none
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Points of Interest
Location: 43.845956, -103.559452
Trail #4 to Little Devils tower begins on the southeast corner of the Sylvan Lake Trailhead. From here, it's an easy half-mile to the Little Devils Tower trailhead.
Location: 43.843333, -103.552371
Continue straight on Trail #4 past the Little Devils Tower Trailhead. Though recreational opportunities at Sylvan Lake make the extra mile worthwhile, many hikers headed for Little Devils Tower, or the longer hike up Harney Peak, begin at this restroom-equipped trailhead.
Location: 43.847342, -103.544920
Turn left at this Y-junction following signs to Little Devils Tower. Almost immediately after this point, the rocky trail turns sharply uphill toward the summit. Be prepared for scrambling and catching your breath atop granite outcroppings between here and the top.
Location: 43.850359, -103.541036
A sharp left-hand jog leads through this slot near mile 1.4. The close-in walls make this an impressive stop for a photo op.
Location: 43.852200, -103.538396
The 6,920-foot summit of Little Devils Tower offers impressive views of the Black Hills and surrounding countryside. Stop for a picnic on the granite mound and be sure to wander its expanse for all the best views.
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