Custer State Park is hosting their first Winter Trail Challenge this season, calling on Black Hills hikers to get out and enjoy the winter scenery.

The series began on Jan. 1 with the First Day Hike and will continue with Saturday's Escape to the Park Game Lodge Hike, followed by Feb. 11's Lover's Leap Hike and March 11's Escape to the Park Sylvan Lake Hike. 

"This is the first year we've had a building open over the winter, with the new visitor center, and we wanted to remind people that we're open and encourage winter participation in the park," said Laci Prucinsky, park naturalist.

Those who participate in at least three hikes can earn a Trail Challenge souvenir pin. Participants who complete all four hikes will be entered into a drawing to win a copy of the "Spirit of Tatanka" DVD.

"We'd planned to give the pin to those who attended all four, but since this is our first year, we'll probably give pins to those who do three of the four," Prucinsky said.

The hikes will begin at 1 p.m. Most of the hikes meet at the Peter Norbeck Outdoor Education Center except the Escape to the Park Hike on March 11, which will meet at the Sylvan Lake General Store parking lot. Those who attend may see animals or animal tracks in the snow, as well as spectacular winter scenery.

"The white tail deer might be out and about looking for food, and you might see tunnels voles have made," Prucinsky said. "On the Sylvan Lake hike, you're more likely to see mountain goats. On Game Lodge, you might see bison, depending on where they're at and about in the park."

Most of all, however, visitors will love seeing a different side to the park in the winter.

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"It's a completely different landscape once you add snow to it," Prucinsky said. "It's a different way to enjoy it."

Hikes will be held regardless of snow conditions. Snowshoes are available to check out and must be reserved in advance. Call 605-255-4515 to make reservations.

There is no cost for visitors to participate in the hikes; however, a park entrance license is required at the hike locations. Entrance licenses can be purchased at the Custer State Park Visitor Center on the day of the hikes. 

For more information, visit the Custer State Park Facebook page or contact the Park Office at 605-255-4515.

Contact Max B. O'Connell at 394-8427 or

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