OverviewCrafts Peak is the nearest peak to the west of Butler Peak. It is not a popular peak, though it could easily be combined with trips to other nearby peaks such as Butler, Grays, Delamar, and Little Bear. Views from the top aren't as unobscured as Butler, though this means there is decent shade at the summit. It is a nice place to eat lunch. The ridge between Butler and Crafts provides amazing, near-panoramic views of the entire area.
Getting ThereDepending on the route taken to the summit, there are multiple ways to get to Crafts.
To start the hike down on highway 18, you can take the 330 from San Bernardino, through Running Springs and on to the 18. From Fawnskin, head west on the 38 until you reach the 18. Make a right. There are numerous places to stop on the 18 to gain the ridge and approach Crafts, though most routes up from the 18 involve extremely steep ascents through tough terrain. This, however, is the shortest way to reach Crafts.
The shortest is to approach from highway 18. You can park your car at one of the pulloffs on the highway and take a drainage up to the ridge. Bag the peak, then either come back down the same drainage, or continue on to Butler. Do note that the ridge between Crafts and Butler is absolutely covered in large, thick, thorny plants. This can make for a miserable 1-1.5 mile traverse during the non-winter months, and long pants with gaiters would make life at least bearable. Also note that the hike from the 18 to the ridge, no matter which drainage you take, is extremely steep. Ascent/descent requires careful consideration of hand/footholds, and there are areas where a rope and a descending device would make the descent much safer. Becoming cliffed out is not as much a concern as falling into an uncontrollable slide. This route is doable, but not recommended. Total mileage would be 2-5+ miles (depending on which drainage you take, and if you include Butler or not).
Another route is to summit Butler via the standard route listed on the Butler Peak page
. After that, continue along the ridge to Crafts, then retrace your steps. Again, the ridge between Butler and Crafts is covered in large, thick, thorny plants. Plan accordingly. Total mileage will depend on whether you drive to Butler or hiked the roads to Butler. The ridge in between Butler and Crafts is about 1-1.5 miles.
A third option is similar to the first, but with less unsafe climbing in steep terrain. Near Lake View Point, the ridge that contains Crafts and Butler is at its lowest point in relation to highway 18. Park in the large loop lot at 34.233163, -117.026666 and (safely!) cross the highway to start your hike North along the ridge. Stay high on the ridge and continue to Crafts, and/or Butler. I do not know if the same thorny plants that infest the ridge between Crafts and Butler are present between the highway and Crafts. As you approach Crafts on the ridge, you will encounter a logging road in a saddle at 34.246637, -117.033232. You can safely follow this road until you are just below the summit rocks of Crafts. It should be a short hike up to the peak after that.
I do not believe you need an Adventure Pass to park at one of the vista pulloffs on highway 18. My vehicle was parked there for 5 hours, in broad daylight, with a paper in the window detailing our route, and I wasn't ticketed.
You will need an Adventure Pass if you climb Crafts from Butler via the standard route listed on the Butler Peak page
When to Climb
Spring/Summer/Autumn would be the time to attempt the route from highway 18. You wouldn't want any snow on the ground in that steep terrain.