Badlands National Park
Castle Trail eastern segment

Castle trail

The eastern segment of the Castle Trail is an easy and fun out and back hike that gives long views of the grass and table lands, and close up views of the spires, gullies, ravines and other features of the Badlands.

From the intersection of I90 and South Dakota 240 near Cactus Flat South Dakota, drive 6.1 miles south to the parking lot for the Notch trail. There will be a National Park entrance station along the way where you will need to pay a fee to enter the park.
Coordinates for the hike: 43.7611800,-101.9277100
Parking / Trailhead amenities
The paved parking lot is enormous. There is a clean pit toilet in the parking lot and an informational kiosk. The parking lot provides access to four different trails - Notch, Window, Door, and Castle. Window and Door are short easy trails. Notch is moderately difficult, and Castle is an out and back.
Trail observations
The trail starts across the road from the parking lot via a stairway that descends to an informational kiosk and trail register.
The trail is the easternmost of three segments of the Castle Valley trail. This hike is an easy hike out to the junction with the Medicine Root trail and then a return along the same path to the parking lot.
The views on this hike are excellent, and there is a fun little section where the trail follows a sinuous erosion gulley that is my personal favorite portion of this hike.
Trail statistics
The trail is 3.00 miles long. The sum of all the uphill climbs is 65 feet.
Trail waypoints
0.02 miParkingParking lot
0.03 miTrailheadTrailhead
0.45 miGulleyHeading into the erosion gullies
0.58 miPyramidsPyramids along the Castle trail
1.49 miTurnaroundTurnaround point
3.00 miEnd of trailEnd of trail
Trail map - Castle Trail eastern segment
Altitude chart - Castle Trail eastern segment Turnaround End of trail
Difficulty: Easy
Terrain: Badlands
Trail surface: Dirt
Type: Out-and-back
View: Open
State: South Dakota
Country: United States of America
National Park Service page
List of Badlands trails
Printable trail map in PDF format (7 Mb download)
Printable trail map in PNG format (2 Mb download)
Waypoints in CSV format
Waypoints in KML format
Instructions on using a trail description page
Instructions on using a trail map printout
Trails in the surrounding area
Trailheads for Montana North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming (2 additional trails)
Trailheads for North Dakota and South Dakota (2 additional trails)
Trailheads for Nebraska South Dakota, and Wyoming (2 additional trails)
Trailheads for Nebraska and South Dakota (2 additional trails)