Sensational little peak-bagging adventure
Of the many other awesome nearby peaks that are easily accessed via FR 684, [including Diablito, Diablo, Puerto, Rock Wall, & Sardina], Saucito definitely takes the prize for best variety that will also allow you to cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time, at least for an off-trail adventure. Much of the off-trail portions are routed, and in a few places the routes are actually much better defined and much less overgrown than many official trails; and with fair footing and nothing overly steep, it makes for a very pleasant and fast off-trail experience for those who are accustomed to these types of adventures. To top things off, you’ll also enjoy some beautiful drainages and ridgelines. While I can speak definitively for only the ridges and drainages I traversed, the summit looks approachable from nearly all directions, and in addition to the route I opted for, [described below], many other awesome possibilities likely exist.
Hike [Notes: the beginning is identical to my write-up on the nearby Diablito Mountain, so I’ve simply copied some parts from that description for this one; and speaking of Diablito: if you’re not from the area and looking to get the most ‘bang for your buck’ in terms of peak bagging, then I highly recommend knocking off both Saucito Mountain & Diablito Mountain in one shot. The two peaks would actually make quite a nice double, and are both easily doable in the same hike for a fit hiker who is seasoned in off-trail].
Those in cars or high-clearance vehicles will want to park and start the hike about two miles down FR 684. There is a small sign to the right, which notes the following:
Diablito Mountain →
Sopori Ranch →
←Red Springs Pass
Just before this sign to the right is a large clearing that makes for a perfect parking spot; and just after the sign to the right is an unnamed dirt road that will lead you toward both Saucito & Diablito Mountains. For those with Jeeps or 4x4’s, it’s quite possible to knock off a good chunk of road hiking by continuing in your vehicle down this unnamed dirt road. Most of the road is in very decent shape; but there are some places right in the beginning that will pose problems for cars and likely for most HCV’s, which is why I recommend parking in the clearing area just before the sign if you don’t plan on driving the unnamed dirt road.
After about 2 miles of hiking [or driving] along the unnamed dirt road, there will be a couple of other intersecting, unnamed dirt roads. For this reason, I highly recommend using a GPS app like Route Scout for navigation. During the first two miles or so along the unnamed dirt road, the large prominent mountain to your left will dominate the views. This is Diablo Mountain and it’s a very fun adventure as well, [but one that I would not recommend during snake season!]. Diablito Mountain is the much smaller, much less prominent looking mountain located to the North of Diablo Mountain; and thanks to how the range tapers off to the North, it’s relatively easy to identify. Saucito Mountain is not quite as obvious. The highpoint is approximately 3.30 air miles from the TH, [mostly West and slightly North], and it’s not visible in the beginning due to being blocked by the closer and higher Diablo Mountain. However, as you continue up the jeep road and views to the West eventually open up as Diablo Mountain tapers off, the highpoint of Saucito will appear as a rocky nub to the West.
At just over 2 miles, the unnamed dirt road shifts from NW to more of a Northward direction, and at about 2.25 miles, there is a short, unnamed dirt road on the left [West]. To get to Saucito Mountain, you’ll want to take a left onto this unnamed road that heads West; [continuing North on the road you are on will take you to the base of Diablito Mountain]. In less than 1/2 mile, the dirt road heading West terminates and an extremely well defined route, [which feels more like a full out trail than a route], will lead you another 1/2 mile or so before it becomes less defined but still fairly easy to follow. Interesting enough, [given that this is a rather remote area], there is actually white paint on several of the boulders that the well-defined route goes over. Given that there were also several horseshoe prints in the sandy part of the route, I’m guessing this is route is [or was at one time] used by one/more of the ranchers in the area.
After about 0.40 from the *official end of the jeep road [*as shown on Cal & FS Topo maps], bank South for about 0.10 miles and you’ll enter an unnamed but beautiful drainage. After staying in what appears to be the main drainage for about 0.33 miles, bank upward out of the drainage and up to a short little nubby point [that is much to insignificant to even be labeled as a UN peak on a topo map]. Once on this nubby point, it’s pretty much a ridgeline joyride to the summit… although the way the ridgeline wraps around, it will not be obvious at this point, [unless you look at a topo map], that you’ll be taken to the summit. To save from attempting to describe the many twists and turns along this ridgeline, I’ve created some screenshots of my actual route that I’ll post with my photoset. I’ve even spliced the routes and colored coded them for each of the segments described above; [these will also be included in the screenshot as well]:
Brown = 1st dirt road leading from the TH to the turnoff for the Westward dirt road that heads toward Sauctio [Note: only a very small portion of this road is shown in the screenshot]
Black = 2nd dirt road that heads Westward
Yellow = well-defined route
Blue = drainage travel
Green = ascent
Red = descent + loop completion
Saucito Mountain has two prominent points that are almost equal in elevation, and the North-most one is the higher of the two. That said, for those who are allergic to or freaked out by bees, it might be helpful to know: I was immediately greeted by 3-4 bees upon setting foot on the highpoint. While I was never stung, never saw a swarm or a nest, and never saw more than 3-4 bees, I took the increased frequency & loudness of buzzing as they flew around me to mean that it probably wasn’t a good idea to further extend my short, 60-90 second summit visit. Thus, I continued to the second summit, which is almost as high. Both summits have exceptionally beautiful, 360 views; and on the slightly lower summit I received a much warmer welcome from several butterflies.
The descent is just as much fun as the ascent if not more so. You’ll start by continuing from the lower summit of Saucito down its gradual Southern ridgeline. After about 0.33 miles, the ridgeline will shift toward the Southeast. At this point, [if following my route], you’ll head downward to the East & NE for about 0.20 miles and then contour around, almost due North, for about 1/4 mile, which will put you on your ‘exit ridge’. Follow the exit ridge for a little over 1/3 of a mile and you will soon end up in a beautiful, unnamed drainage [that is either a part of or a tributary of the same drainage you traversed earlier on]. The part of the drainage you end up in after descending Saucito is perhaps the most pleasant part of the entire adventure, offering phenomenal views and consisting of better footing than even the jeep road. You’ll soon come to an unnamed tank; and within about 1/4 mile after that, you’ll reconnect with your approach tracks.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.