Sylvan Lake Shore Trail
If there isn’t enough time to hike to Harney Peak, the Sylvan Lake Shore Trail is a relaxing alternative. Sylvan Lake is located off of Route 87 from the south, which cuts through the park from both the north and the south.
There are two parking lots near the lake. One is close to the park store and the other is at the end of a short road, visible from the store across the lake from the store.
This is an easy but very scenic one-mile loop trail around the lake. It can be started from any point on the shoreline. A level path for the most part, there is a moderately strenuous section behind the dam with a short but steep climb with a stone staircase.
Views from the trail are primarily of the granite-circled lake, though on the top of the rocks near the dam side of the trail, some of the spires of the Needles formation can be seen as well.
The Sylvan Lake hike can be extended by venturing onto the Sunday Gulch Trail, a fairly strenuous 2.8-mile loop.
© Laural A. Bidwell from Moon Mount Rushmore & the Black Hills, 1st Edition