No 7th Cavalry Here
Named after General George Custer, there is no evidence Custer or anyone from the 7th Cavalry ever climbed this peak. This is one of the most prominent mountains in the northern Black Hills. Early in this century the Mountain Pine Beetle devastated the trees on the mountain virtually killing all of the Pine trees. Subsequent wind storms broke off most of these trees making the landscape resemble the aftermath of a hurricane. In the early 1900's this peak was first used as a fire lookout location, with a permanent structure built by the CCC in 1937-38.
The hike follows a one lane gravel road to the top. With a four wheel drive vehicle you can make it a little further but there is nowhere to park, turn around or pass on the way up which was intended solely for the fire tower employee. You get a few clean views of the fire tower as the hike progresses and surrounding views of the Black Hills are all around. The road serpentine's the mountain and at the top circles the peak before topping out. A few hundred more feet up and you are at the fire tower. On the day we were there, no one was in the tower but we could still walk around the tower deck offering views in all directions. There are several old structures on top as well. Watch out for poison ivy which abounds. Get your fill and return the way you came.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.