Friday, August 17, 2012

Black Hills Beauty: Sunday Gulch Hike

The Sunday Gulch Trail near Sylvan Lake
in Custer State Park, Black Hills, SD.

Our family adventure on perhaps
the most rugged and beautiful hike
we have been on in the Black Hills.

It might have even been better
than Jenny Lake in the Tetons . . . 
at the start.
These are the smiling faces above at the beginning
of our adventure
at Sylvan Lake.

There are so many things in our own backyard
to discover and enjoy and this is one of them.

This trail is an immediate adventure.

Erin fell before we even started
making me realize I should pack a first aid kit
especially for my child that insists on doing things
her way.

But the fall
humbled her enough
to take it slower
for awhile.

Handrails are a lifesaver...
we couldn't have done it
without them
with a five year old
and enjoyed it.

It takes a fast drop in elevation
for a mile and half
over granite and alongside
tiny waterfalls
from 6100 feet to 5700 feet.


It was like trekking
through Middle Earth
with loads of crooks and cracks
in the rocks for exploring.

We were all smiles on the journey down,
but the further down we went,
the farther we knew we would have to climb.

There were treasures hidden everywhere:
trees growing from impossible places
weathered roots
stumps covered in moss.

It felt worlds away
from the hot dry prairie dust.

A 2.8 mile loop, it was a challenge with a five year old for sure.
She started the climb back up with loads of enthusiasm
but when we had about a mile left to go, still climbing,
she was done.
But the little trooper did it.

Many families passed us.
We passed no one.

We took our time
drank water and had snacks.
Took breaks.

And we
pressed on.

Pressed on to high-fives at the end
along with
Doritos and fudge from the
Custer County Candy Company.

Erin's "Pups Program" badge
required a "nature hike"
that they suggested around the
Peter Norbeck Visitor Center.
But this girl earned her stripes!

Treated ourselves to a drive through the Needles
on the way back to our "home" in the hills,
the State Game Lodge.

Good stuff.

So much to enjoy just a couple hours from home!


  1. Great photos, Jodi! So fun to see them. I felt like I experienced the hike--well, a little bit, anyway!

  2. Beautiful! I used to work in the lodge there when I was a teenager.

  3. Can't wait to hear about your vacation from Tom--always a highlight of the first day of school!

  4. Oh what precious memories you are making together. Your family is beautiful Jodene!

    ♥Lee Ann


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