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Saddleback Butte State Park

Saddleback Butte Trail

From Campground to Saddleback Peak is 4 miles round trip with 1,000-foot elevation gain;
Season: October-May

Rarely visited Saddleback Butte State Park, located on the eastern fringe of Antelope Valley, is high-desert country, a land of creosote bush and Joshua trees. The park takes the name of its most prominent feature— 3,651-foot Saddleback Butte, a granite mountaintop that stands head and shoulders above Antelope Valley.
The Richard Dowen Nature Trail is a good introduction to the Joshua tree and other plant life found in this corner of the desert. The trail to the boulder-strewn summit of Saddleback Peak takes a straight-line course, with most of the elevation gain occurring in the last half mile. From atop the peak, enjoy far-reaching desert views.
Directions to trailhead: From Highway 14 (Antelope Valley Freeway) in Lancaster, take the 20th Street exit. Head north on 20th and turn east (right) on Avenue J. Drive 18 miles to Saddleback Butte State Park. Follow the dirt park road to the campground, where the trail begins. Park (day use fee) near the trail sign.
The hike: The signed trail heads straight for the saddle. The soft, sandy track, marked with yellow posts leads through an impressive Joshua tree woodland. After 1.5 miles, the trail switchbacks steeply up the rocky slope of the butte. An invigorating climb brings you to the saddle of Saddleback Butte. To reach the peak, follow the steep leftward trail to the summit.
From the top, you can look south to the San Gabriel Mountains. At the base of the mountains, keen eyes will discern the California Aqueduct. To the east is the vast Mojave Desert, to the north is Edwards Air Force Base. To the west are the cities of Lancaster and Palmdale and farther west, the rugged Tehachapi Mountains.

© 2012 The Trailmaster, Inc.
From John McKinney’s
Day Hiker’s Guide to California’s State Parks
Trail descriptions and maps have been reproduced with the permission of the author.  To learn more about The Trailmaster and other related publications please visit their website at