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A trail that winds through Lithograph and Hell Canyons into open meadows surrounded by cliffs and rocky outcroppings.

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5,494' 1,675 m


5,128' 1,563 m


362' 110 m


369' 112 m



Avg Grade (2°)


Max Grade (12°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Birding · Fall Colors · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Jewel Cave National Monument is a day use area. Please check the park website as hours vary depending on the season. Park hours can be found here:…

Need to Know

There are restrooms at the visitor center and at the historic area, otherwise there are no services along the trail.

Runner Notes

The trail is relatively free from obstacles. The trail is grass in the canyon, providing a nice soft surface to run on.


The trail departs the visitor center off to the right and follows a service road for a short distance before the trail turns to the left and follows the same path as the roof trail. At roughly 0.15 miles, the Canyon Trail breaks off to the right and climbs up the hillside through a burned out area. You get great views of the canyon and surrounding hills from here.

As the trail drops down the hillside, it transforms into singletrack gravel trail as it approaches the historic area. The trail crosses the road and follows a concrete path past a cabin before circling the hillside and dropping down to another entrance to the cave. The trail passes the cave before descending to the canyon floor. At this point, the trail transforms from concrete to dirt to grass.

At a junction at roughly 1.1 miles, the trail turns to the left while a service road breaks off to the right. Meandering through the canyon floor, you can enjoy rocky outcrops and trees growing in the canyon. There is very little shade through this part of the trail, so make sure that you have sunscreen, a hat, and plenty of water. In the fall, the colors of the trees change to vibrant yellows, oranges, and reds.

At roughly 2.8 miles, the trail starts to re-enter the ponderosa pine forest. Be on the lookout for deer, especially in the morning and evenings. After roughly half a mile at 3.3 miles, the trail breaks turns to the left and starts to climb up the hillside via a series of long switchbacks. At roughly 3.5 miles, the trail meets back up with the Roof Trail. Turn to the right and follow the trail back to the visitor center, following the same path as the Roof Trail.

Flora & Fauna

This area is popular for birding through the year and wildflower viewing in the summer. Deer can be seen, especially in the early morning hours and close to sunset.

Shared By:

David Hitchcock

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  3.0 from 2 votes
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in South Dakota


2 Views Last Month
18 Since Oct 31, 2021



The trail breaks off from the Roof trail and climbs gently up the hillside.
Oct 31, 2021 near Custer, SD
The view from the platform overlooking the Black Hills National Forest. You can see the ponderosa pine forest that makes up a great deal of Jewel Cave National Monument.
Oct 31, 2021 near Custer, SD
At this point, the trail follows a gravel service road that moves through the ponderosa pine forest.
Nov 1, 2021 near Custer, SD
Views of the surrounding hills and mountains spread out before you. The views in this part of the trail are the most sweeping in the monument.
Oct 31, 2021 near Custer, SD
The Canyons Trail meanders through the Jasper Fire burn scar from the year 2000.   It gives you a sense of how the landscape can recover from fire.
Nov 1, 2021 near Custer, SD
You can get a sense of how the landscape is recovering from the Jasper Fire of 2000. Here, you can s
Nov 1, 2021 near Custer, SD



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