Hiking the Robber’s Roost Trail, Custer State Park

I review two adventures where we learned the value in seeking out the “boring” locales, even on “less-than-ideal” days.

The Trekkers originally hiked the Robber’s Roost Trail in Custer State Park on a foggy, mild, January day.  Many of the pictures below are from that trip.  We have since returned in warmer weather and found it to be equally enjoyable so I’ve added a few more pictures! 

Is it cold out, or windy, or really hot, or raining…then it’s not a good day to spend outside, right?…or is it?

One thing anyone who lives near mountainous terrain can tell you is the weather can change at a moment’s notice–which can be both good and bad–and it can vary greatly between nearby locations.  The Trekker’s have experienced this frequently. 

One particular January day our local area was socked in with heavy, freezing fog.  It was a damp, 30ish-degrees so it wasn’t exactly ideal for being out (though the hoarfrost on the trees was beautiful!)  Previous experience has shown us how variable our local weather can be, dependent on terrain.  Due to this, we knew the weather in the Black Hills could be far different than what we were currently experiencing in town (being married to a meteorologist who can look up conditions in certain areas helps too 😉).  So, we decided to try out the Robber’s Roost Trail in Custer State Park.  We knew, at the worst, we would be able to enjoy a pretty drive and could get some nice hiking in, while at the best the weather could be FAR different as we climbed in elevation.  Boy, was it!

A Foggy Drive through Custer State Park

As we headed for the park, Mr. Trekker made the prediction that we’d emerge from the fog shortly after passing the entrance sign (where the road begins to gain in elevation)…he was right on the money! (I’m gonna channel Johnny Depp from Pirates of the Caribbean and state, “there’ll be no living with him now.” 😝)  As we headed toward our trailhead, we made several stops for photo opportunities of the gorgeous hoarfrost the freezing fog had left behind.  I can’t quite explain why, but that natural occurrence utterly fascinates me.  The way the frozen crystals cling to the local flora can cause a smooth piece of bark to look almost furry.  It reminds me of the tiny hairs on a spider’s legs.  

Isn’t this incredible?



Hiking the Robber’s Roost Trail

When we arrived at our trailhead, the sun was shining brightly and continued to do so…for the remainder of the afternoon.  We had many opportunities for viewing the fog bank below us, in the lower elevations, but it never reached our altitude until the very end of our trek.  By then, we had returned to the car and were wandering about, seeking out prime picture opportunities.  😁

The fog is coming!


It was incredible, watching the fog slowly rise from the lower elevations.


The trail wasn’t anything exciting, it was just an old fire road that winds through prairie land, around and over hills throughout the park, but we had a great time!  The scenery used to be more picturesque, but after the large, Legion Lake Fire that swept through this area in December 2017, this portion of the park now consists, mainly, of a burn scar.  For this reason, be aware, in the warmer months, there is very little shade.  You should be prepared for hot conditions.   

If you’re looking for some additional fun activities to check out in Custer State Park, click here!

Where is the Robber’s Roost Trailhead?

The trailhead is located in the southern portion of Custer State Park, off of Oak Draw Road (just to the east of the Prairie Trail trailhead).  You can reach that road from the southern arm of the Wildlife Loop Road (Route 16A).  The hike just follows an old, forest road, out-and-back, though it can be combined with other old roads, in the local area.  These would make for a great hike, horseback, or mountain bike ride. (We’re planning to try this route on our bikes soon!) 

Puppers enjoying the hike!
You can see the burn scar in the distance

Below is a short video I took, at the end of the hike, of the coyotes’ haunting song that seemed to welcome the fog as it silently slipped back up the mountainside…(turn the sound up for this one!):

Below are a few more pictures of our trek, more are available on the Tranquil Trekker Facebook and Instagram sites.  (If you haven’t followed these yet, please click the links at the upper right-hand corner of the page, and do so!)  Thanks, as usual, to Mr. Trekker, for several of the pictures in this post and on the other sites!


To me, this picture feels otherworldly, like smoke rising from a scorched landscape (it is just fog).
Did I mention this trail can get a “bit” muddy? 😳😁

In Conclusion

Don’t be afraid to seek out the “boring” or “go-nowhere” treks, they can sometimes offer some surprises of their own.  We enjoyed a great–albeit INCREDIBLY muddy–hike (basically in shirt sleeves)…in mid-January…in SOUTH DAKOTA!  Whereas, if we had stayed at home, we may have felt depressed by the cold, damp, foggy day.  So don’t be afraid to Get Out While the Gettin’s…Bad!

Have you had a positive experience where you ventured outdoors when the weather was less than perfect?  Tell me about it in the comments!

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You can enjoy the outdoors regardless of the weather! Check out the Robber's Roost Trail, in Custer State Park, that makes a nice hike in any condition.


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