If you are looking for a great cardio workout but don’t have much time, this trail climbs 340 feet in elevation up to a fantastic lookout over the city of Custer, SD. The city of Custer maintains this aggregate-and-rock trail very well.
You start at the parking lot for Big Rock Park at Pageant Hill, which is also the starting point for the city’s disc golf course. The trailhead is marked with a large brown metal sign. The trail winds through what I consider the world’s prettiest disc golf course – filled with tall pines, lush grasses, and pretty granite formations - so keep an eye out for flying objects. At the top, you will climb 68 steps to a lookout that rewards you with 360 degrees of spectacular bird’s eye views of the Southern Black Hills. There is even a picnic table at the top if you want to pack a lunch.
Run as an out and back, Big Rock Trail takes around 20 minutes. Or, you can turn left on the road at the base of the stairs and continue on to Sunrise Point. Sunrise Point features more vistas of the city of Custer and several hills around Custer. One you have looked your fill, you can follow the signs for the Custer Skywalk. 205 steps take you down to the Custer Skywalk Trailhead. Turn right/east on Gordon Street, right/south on 8th, and you will see the Big Rock Trailhead parking lot. The loop takes around 35 minutes depending on your pace and number of stops.
These trails are quite a delight and a wonderful choice if you find yourself in Custer looking for a short but tough run or hike. They pack quite a punch in a pretty small package, and the payoff is well worth the effort.