French Creek Natural Area

Custer, South Dakota 57730

French Creek Natural Area

French Creek Natural Area Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"An overnight backpack into a pristine natural area along a gorge of unique rock formations, with numerous creek fordings. Of course, you always have the option of hiking in from either end and backtracking when you get tired."

French Creek Natural Area Reviews

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A nice, kid friendly trail. Took my 9 year old daughter on her first overnight backpacking trip. She had a blast. Not much elevation change, and the water was not very deep on most crossings. There is a lot of poison ivy around at this time of year so be careful if it irritates you. We came across a wild raspberry patch which made my daughter a very happy girl. We ate raspberries for 45 minutes. It's a good trail. My son and I did this once in April 2009, and there was still snow on the ground. The water was a lot higher and faster then. We only went about 1 mile in before stopping so as not to get soaked. I posted sme pictures if you want to see. They are from the August trip.
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Good scenery with many creek crossings some waist deep. I believe there are 34 total. If you hike this trail you WILL get POISON IVY. It is everywhere and is unavoidable. Everyone in my group got it and I dont recall seeing any of it along the way because it was mid May and nothing had really leafed out yet. Would be nice if the park maintainece crew would clear it away from the trail.
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I live 3 miles from Custer State Park and have hike the French Creek trail a number of times. The hike follows French creek through a meandering canyon for 12 miles (one way). Although the creek is rushing during the Spring parts of it are completely dry (on the surface that is) for most of the year. The rest of the stream offers challenging fishing for small Brown trout and a great chance for solitude as the trail doesnt not appear to receive much use. Although the hike is normally quite easy it can be terrible if done after a heavy snow storm before trail maintenece. The trail was in practically unnavigable canditions (I don't use that term lightly) for most of the early Summer of 2000 due to a number of broken trees and foilage. Otherwise keep a watchful eye and you are likely to spot bison, bighorns, deer, and possibly elk.

French Creek Natural Area Photos

Trail Information

Nearby City
Trail Type
Skill Level
Overnight or a full day
Best spring through fall
Custer State Park
Local Contacts
Trails Illustrated Topo Map No. 238
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Dec 2018