Monday, November 4, 2019

Saddleback Butte

Saddleback Butte is firmly planted in the Antelope Valley skyline where you have nothing but sage and desert leading to a butte right there is front of ya face. I have hiked a bunch in the Antelope Valley but never spent much time in the Lancaster area. Well color me chagrined for not spending more time there because this hike was...well.. a beaut!

There are two parking lots, one for the day use area and one for the campground. While parking in the campground will cut down on some mileage, I went from the day use area and was promptly befuddled about where to go. I decided to start down the paved Dowen Nature Trail by the restrooms and saw that it connected with the Little Butte Trail to the left and then off I went.

The trail goes through scrub and impossibly old joshua trees and it is slightly uphill. And sandy, very very sandy.

So even if you feel like you are just trudging along, your calves will subtly start barking at you as you slog through the sandy.

The Little Butte trail is aptly named because eventually you gain the "summit" of Little Butte (it really should be named Lil Beaut but no one is asking me :P).

All of this sand and joshua trees and sneaky elevation gains eventually lead you after approximately 1.5 miles to the junction from the Saddleback Butte Peak trail where the REAL hiking begins.

SB always looms before you and it lets you know that you have got to get your legs working to first make it to the saddle and then make it to the summit. The first part is making it to the saddle which is a well marked goat path through the rocks which was pretty easy all things considered.

The second part is making your way to the summit through this mess.

Many people have said in other reviews that you have to do some light bouldering to make this work. I am here to tell you that despite the lack of signage, despite some stepping up on rocks, this really isn't THAT bad, there are goat trails all throughout and when it doubt, just see if someone's footprints are around ya.

Eventually you make it to the summit and enjoy killer views of the AV.

Coming down is a little bit steep so make sure you have solid boots. No ropes are needed or anything crazy like that just take your time and you will be fine. However, since it is an unmarked trail, coming down I got a little lost and start following basically my own mind down a different trail. I quickly recognized I was off kilter when I was coming up against cliff edges and quickly righted myself. Basically you want to stay high on the shoulder because the shoulder meets the saddle much higher than you think.

I have heard tell that this hike can get a might be windy and while it was calm and clear definitely be prepared for adverse conditions when you go. Regardless of the conditions this is an underrated gem of a hike. It is totally worth a drive to Lancaster and your time sloshing around in the sand. I can't wait to go back!

For more info on this fantastic state park, check out the link:


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