The Cuddeback Trail Trailhead is easy to find. It is next to Hwy 395 about .5 mile north of the small town of Red Mountain. Red Mountain is located about 20 miles south of Ridgecrest.
From Hwy 395 turn east on Trona Rd and then immediately turn south into the dirt area that is next to the intersection. This dirt section is the beginning of the Cuddeback Trail. You can park here and hike or if your vehicle has some clearance and the road is not muddy, you can drive south on the road towards Red Mountain. This dirt road has several forks on both sides of the road, but stay on the main road heading directly toward Red Mountain. Pass a couple of fire rings and go 1.1 miles to a wide spot in the road where the main trail turns from going southeast to south. Park and hike from here. If you hike from the Hwy395/Trona Rd intersection it adds about 200 ft of elevation gain and 1.1 miles each way.
The Cuddeback Trail Trailhead is at elevation 3,737 ft. There is no trail to the summit, but it is a Class 2 easy hike.
From the parking area you can see a saddle on the ridgeline north of the summit. That saddle is your first goal. Head up the slope covered with short desert brush towards the saddle, go to the right of a big rounded red colored knob labeled 4728 on the topo. The walking is easy, but the further you go the footing becomes more rocky and steeper.
On the south side of 4728 there is some route finding to avoid brush and steeper rocky slopes, but a good the route to the saddle with a steady rate of ascent isn’t difficult to find. Once you reach the saddle at an elevation of 4,900 ft, it is easy to follow the wide ridge over a false summit with elevation of 5,180 ft, down about 100 ft to another saddle and then up to the summit. There is a climber’s trail along the left or east side of the ridge between point 5,180 and the summit.
The total hike was only about 3.9 miles, took 2.75 hours, and gained about 1770 ft.
The 10 essentials are always required even on a short hike. Bring water, there is none along the hike route. In the summer, don’t do this hike in the middle of the day unless you have a death wish. In the winter it snows occasionally on the mountain and the wind can be quite cold, bring a warm coat.
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