Today I thought I’d share a little section of trail we discovered recently just off the beaten path of Wildlife Loop Road in Custer State Park. Typically used as an alternative route for a horseback riding trail to Mount Coolidge, this short jaunt begins on Fisherman Flats Road and brings you down to the shore of French Creek. While only 1.25 miles roundtrip, a rocky outcrop along the trail gives aerial views of the creek.
Easiest way to the trailhead is by taking Hwy 16A east from Custer and turning right onto Wildlife Loop Road (CSP Road 1) just past the Game Lodge Campground. As you travel south along the Wildlife Loop you’ll eventually come upon the Wildlife Station Visitor Center on your left hand side. Across the road from the visitor center you’ll see two gravel roads, Oak Draw and Fisherman Flats. Turn onto Fisherman Flats (CSP Road 2) and continue along until the road comes to a dead end. Here is where the trail begins its descent down to the creek.
The trail is somewhat steep, and it’s a bit rocky in areas, so keep that in mind. Also keep in mind that if you do encounter horses they always have the right of way.
As you hike down look for the rock formation in the picture above. Climbing up on top of here gives a nice view of the creek below.
The creek itself has no easy crossing without getting wet so this is where we decided to turn around. I’m fairly certain if you continue on you’ll eventually run into the 12 mile French Creek Natural Area trail. I’ve only explored the easternmost 2 miles of that particular trail, so I’m not entirely sure how the trail runs in this area which would be located somewhere around mile 6 I expect.
As an aside, the area along Fisherman Flats Road is also a commonly used birthing ground for the bison herd. So if you’re visiting Custer State Park around April and are hoping to see some fuzzy orange newborn bison, this is the place to look.