The Trekkers took the Pup to a new trail recently, the Badger Clark Trail at Custer State Park! Not only did this allow us to experience a different part of the park, but it also meant we could try out another portion of the Centennial Trail that we haven’t hiked yet.
Where is the Badger Clark Trailhead?
The trailhead is found off the Badger Clark Road, which is situated very near the junction of Route 16A (the southern route) and Route 37 (the Needles Highway). It is also just to the east of the Legion Lake Lodge. All of these are located within the central portion of the very large, Custer State Park in the central Black Hills of western South Dakota.
The trailhead is found at the parking area for the Badger Hole Historic Site, which was the historical retreat of the poet laureate, Charles Badger Clark Jr., during the mid-1900s. He enjoyed vacationing here throughout his final 30 years of life. During the summer months, the home is open for touring, though in the winter, you can only tour the outside grounds.
What you will see on the Badger Clark Trail
This is a great trail! It’s got a few lengthy, steep portions, but for the most part, it meanders along through the rolling Black Hills that comprise this portion of the park. If you take this route far enough, it will eventually take you to the French Creek Trail and a horse camp on North Lame Johnny Road (the Centennial Trail continues to the south from here).
The trail is quite scenic, snaking through forested hillsides and more arid, grassland areas. This combination of ecosystems is common in this park. You can also see some of the burn scars leftover from the terrible, Legion Lake wildfire that roared through this area in 2017. Some of the scenic views you will see from the trail include the grasslands of central South Dakota branching off to the east, and the green, pine-covered Black Hills surrounding you in all the other directions.
This trail is not one of the more popular ones in the park, so it is fairly lightly-traveled. This is nice as it is quieter and allows you to more easily enjoy the peace and tranquility found in the park’s inner portions. You also won’t miss anything by taking this lesser-traveled trail as you’ll see much of the same scenery that is available throughout much of the rest of the park.
We didn’t make it all the way to the French Creek Trail or the horse camp. We decided to turn around where we stopped for lunch. As it turned out, we lost our trail for a short while near the end (the sign marking where the Centennial Trail branched off had been knocked over by a buffalo, scratching an itch 😮–oddly, this is a common occurrence in this park. 😝) So, we ended up on a horse trail, instead.
This is a great way to see Custer State Park! On your next visit there, be sure to check out this less-traveled trail that will give you easy access to the inner, very scenic portions of the park that not everyone sees!
Have you ever hiked this trail? What did you think? Tell me about it in the comments!
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