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Kick-off the New Year with First Day Hikes at Saddleback Butte State Park

Saddleback Butte State Park, East of Lancaster, will offer three guided hikes on Jan. 1, 2024, as part of America's State Parks' First Day Hikes initiative. America's State Parks' First Day Hikes offer individuals and families the opportunity to begin the New Year with rejuvenating exercise and connection to the outdoors in all 50 states.

Staff and volunteers will lead three hikes varying from a casual half-mile stroll to a strenuous 5-mile hike up to the peak of Saddleback Butte. Check-in for all three hikes is at the Park Visitor Center, 17102 E. Ave. J, Lancaster. Dress for winter weather and bring a lunch to enjoy in the park's Day Use Area after returning from the hikes. All ages are welcome. Dogs are not allowed on the Park's trails (except service animals). Hikes start at the indicated time-arrive early to stretch and prepare.

1. 9 a.m. – Hike to Saddleback Peak

This strenuous 6-mile hike from the Visitor Center to Saddleback Peak (3,651 feet) offers incredible views and incredible exercise. Plan for around three hours of hiking and 1,000 feet of elevation gain. Bring water, snacks, good hiking shoes and layered clothing. It can be very windy at the top. No scrambling required. Led by State Park Staff.

2. 10 a.m. – Loop Hike Across the Park

This easy/moderate 3.5-mile loop hike across the park will take you into the special land of Creosote and Joshua Trees while offering long, sweeping vistas of local buttes. Take quiet pauses to hear the animals who call this area home. Plan for under 2 hours of hiking with little elevation gain. Bring water, good hiking shoes,and layered clothing. Led by State Park Volunteers.

3. 11 a.m. – Dowen Nature Trail

This easy 0.5-mile guided interpretive walk along the Dowen Nature Trail is great for all ages and ability levels. Learn about the unique ecological communities and cultural histories of the park while never being too far from your car... or a bathroom. Plan for around 1 hour duration with frequent stops and mild elevation gain. Wheelchair and stroller accessible. Led by State Park Staff.

Admission: Free on Jan. 1. Typically $6 per vehicle for Day Use parking ($5 for seniors, $3 with disability).

Saddleback Butte State Park is open year-round for camping, hiking and equestrian activities in our desert. The park receives support from a nonprofit organization, Poppy Reserve/Mojave Desert Interpretive Association (PRMDIA).

Nation-wide information about First Day Hikes and other First Day Activities offered can be found at http://www.stateparks.org/special-programs/first-day-hikes/.

The California Department of Parks and Recreation, popularly known as State Parks, and the programs supported by its Office of Historic Preservation and divisions of Boating and Waterways and Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation provides for the health, inspiration and education of the people of California by helping to preserve the state's extraordinary biological diversity, protecting its most valued natural and cultural resources, and creating opportunities for high-quality outdoor recreation. Learn more at parks.ca.gov.