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Horse Trails

There are 4 marked horse trails in Custer State Park, accessible from the French Creek Horse Camp. Trails are marked with brown fiberglass posts and blue diamonds. The Centennial Trail is marked with fiberglass posts and gray diamonds.

Marked trails are intended to be a primer for our first time visitors, but we encourage horse camp guests to purchase topographical maps* and explore other areas of the Park as well.

 

 

*Detailed topographic maps are available for sale at the Peter Norbeck and Wildlife Station Visitor Center (April-October) or call 605.255.4828.

Centennial Trail (Map: Red)

  • The Centennial Trail is marked with brown fiberglass posts and gray diamonds.
  • Trail is 22 miles long as it crosses the Park.
  • It is not a loop trail, but bisects the Park from North to South.
  • Three trailheads are located along the trail:
    • Iron Creek Trailhead on the northern boundary
    • Badger Hole near Legion Lake
    • The French Creek Trailhead near the Horse Camp.

Trail 1: French Creek and Mount Coolidge (Map: Green)

Riding time: 9 hours
  1. Ride out of French Creek Horse Camp (northeast) following French Creek downstream past the Centennial Trail. Approximately 4 miles out, watch for the Calkins Draw sign pointing left out of the canyon. The trail climbs from French Creek and intersects an old logging road.
  2. Follow the logging road to Barne's Canyon Road then turn left riding the road to Heddy Draw.
  3. Ride Heddy Draw (west) and after climbing a steep hill you will intersect Hwy 87 on the side of Mount Coolidge.
  4. To ride to Mount Coolidge, cross the highway, turn right (north) and ride through the trees until the trail intersects the graveled Mount Coolidge road.
  5. Ride the road up to the lookout tower and return on the same route. Instead of riding down the steep hill you came up, take the right hand logging road along the ridge and continue south into Sawmill Draw.
  6. When you reach Sawmill Draw and French Creek follow the creek downstream to North Lame Johnny Road and the curved bridge.
  7. Turn left (east) and follow North Lame Johnny Road back to Horse Camp.

An alternate trail (green dash-line on the map) to riding up Calkins Draw:

  1. Continue down French Creek to the trail leading south out of French Creek to Fisherman's Flat.
  2. Once out of the canyon take the road Fisherman Flats Road past the green gate back to North Lame Johnny Road.
  3. Turn right on North Lame Johnny Road and head back to French Creek Horse Camp.

Trail 2: Big Tree & Robber's Roost Draw (Map: Blue)

Riding time: 4 hours
  1. Ride out of French Creek Horse Camp to the south and follow the Centennial Trail to the Wildlife Loop Road. Turn left (east) and follow the road for about 2 miles until you reach a sign pointing left (north) up a draw.
  2. Follow the fire trail up this draw about 1/4 mile to the Big Tree.
  3. Continue to follow the trail markers north to an intersection where the trail turns right (east) and climbs a rocky hill.
  4. At the top of the hill turn right again (south) and follow the ridge to the next intersection.
  5. Ride the left fork (to the east) and down Robber's Roost draw.
  6. Follow the draw south to Oak Draw Road.
  7. Ride left (northeast) on 3 until the road intersects North Lame Johnny Road.
  8. Turn left (northwest) and ride 4 back to the horse camp.

Trail 3: Parker Canyon (Map: Brown)

Riding time: 4 hours

Parker Canyon was named after a family that homesteaded here in the late 1880's. Springs keep this area wet, and provide water for bison, deer, elk and other wildlife.

  1. Ride south out of the horse camp on the Centennial Trail.
  2. When you reach the Wildlife Loop Road, cross the road and turn right (west) and follow the trail up the hill. From the crest you will be able to see the Blue Bell entrance station.
  3. Ride along the Loop Road towards the station, angling southeast as you near the highway (SD Hwy 87).
  4. The best place to cross Hwy 87 is approximately 100 yards south of the station, where Lower French Creek Road intersects the blacktop. Trail markers will direct you south into Parker Canyon.
  5. As you ride south through the canyon, you will again intersect Hwy 87. Cross the road and ride east up the hill to a large meadow. Trail markers will bring you to the Centennial Trail.
  6. Follow it left (north) to the horse camp.

Racetrack Butte & Buffalo Corrals

Riding time: 5 hours - This ride is not highlighted on the map
  1. Ride out of the horse camp to the southeast on North Lame Johnny Road.
  2. At the intersection with Fisherman Flats Road, turn left and follow Fisherman Flats Road across the ridge and down to Racetrack Butte (about 4 1/2 miles).
  3. From the top of the butte, you can see the buffalo corrals to the south (these corrals are used in the fall round-up and the November buffalo auction).
  4. Ride off the butte towards the corrals and intersect Oak Draw.
  5. Ride right (west) along Oak Draw Road to North Lame Johnny Road.
  6. Take North Lame Johnny Road back to the horse camp.