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Castle Trail

The longest maintained trail within Badlands, perfect for a shuttle, loop, or out-and-back.

Hiking Difficult

8.3 km
47 m
41 m
1-2 hrs
Low Point
794 m
High Point
815 m
Castle Trail Map

The Castle Trail is the showpiece hiking trail within Badlands. It's the longest maintained trail and makes for an excellent shuttle or loop when paired with the Medicine Root Trail. Along the way you'll pass through vast open prairies, mud hills, and "through intricately carved buttes, sod tables, washes and gullies with useful perspective on the powerful erosive forces that shape the Badlands." Source


There are both eastern and western trailheads for the Castle Trail. Both are quite size-able with room for larger trailers or RV's, and are located along the main roadway through the park. As a result, a point-to-point shuttle is an excellent option. The trail also crosses another roadway near the eastern trailhead should you want a destination for a shorter out-and-back.

A popular option is to link the Castle Trail and Medicine Root Trail on this loop, which is an excellent option from the eastern trailhead. Medicine Root Trail is slightly less scenic than the formations you'll find on the Castle Trail, but "you may enjoy the variation, perspective and open space," according to this source.

Worth noting, the entire trail is exposed, with very few options for shade or shelter. Be extremely mindful of the weather forecast and be sure to pack plenty of water for the trip. Long sleeves and/or sunblock are also highly recommended.

Should you have the time, consider stopping by the Fossil Exhibit Trail to view some of the many fossils that have been found over the years.



Hiking trails where obstacles such as rocks or roots are prevalent. Some obstacles can require care to step over or around. At times, the trail can be worn and eroded. The grade of the trail is generally quite steep, and can often lead to strenuous hiking.

High Exposure

3 out of 4

Some trail sections have exposed ledges or steep ascents/descents where falling could cause serious injury.


2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

all year round


  • Wildlife
  • Historical
  • Picturesque
  • Wild flowers

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area