French Creek Natural Area Trail

Custer, South Dakota

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This trip in its entirety is long (12 miles), and many trekkers often camp for one night. Therefore, we suggest making this a trip of only 1.5 miles one-way. The trail is marked from both the east and west terminuses for this length; after that, hikers must make their own way. The trip travels along a gorge of unique rock formations, intersected by many stream crossings. French Creek originates northwest of the town of Custer and travels east through Custer State Park in a dramatic manner, exposing layers of ancient rock in colorful canyons. Near here one of Lt. Col. George Custer’s men discovered gold in 1874. Fishing here (you must have a state license) is good for brown and rainbow trout. Wildlife is here, too, as well as an amazing geological phenomenon. Near the east end of the trail, the waters of French Creek disappear for several hundred yards, providing an excellent example of “sinkhole” topography.

French Creek Natural Area Trail Professional Review and Guide

"This trip in its entirety is long (12 miles), and many trekkers often camp for one night. Therefore, we suggest making this a trip of only 1.5 miles one-way. The trail is marked from both the east and west terminuses for this length; after that, hikers must make their own way. The trip travels along a gorge of unique rock formations, intersected by many stream crossings.

French Creek originates northwest of the town of Custer and travels east through Custer State Park in a dramatic manner, exposing layers of ancient rock in colorful canyons. Near here one of Lt. Col. George Custer’s men discovered gold in 1874. Fishing here (you must have a state license) is good for brown and rainbow trout. Wildlife is here, too, as well as an amazing geological phenomenon. Near the east end of the trail, the waters of French Creek disappear for several hundred yards, providing an excellent example of “sinkhole” topography."

Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Custer
Distance: 3
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Skill Level: Moderate
Duration: 2 hours
Season: Best late spring through fall
Local Contacts: Custer State Park
Local Maps: Trails Illustrated Topo Map No. 238
Driving Directions: Directions to French Creek Natural Area Trail

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May 2018