Cougar Buttes

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5/5 (9 reviews)
Lucerne Valley, California (San Bernardino County)
Last Updated: 09/26/2022
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Trail Information


Altitude Category Icon Altitude
Camping Category Icon Camping
Desert Category Icon Desert
Iconic Category Icon Iconic
Rock Category Icon Rock
Sand Category Icon Sand
Scenic Category Icon Scenic
Wash Category Icon Wash
Cougar Buttes is one of the great off-road areas of Southern California that has yet to be discovered by the main stream off-road community. Just minutes from Big Bear and Johnson Valley, this small area is easy to miss with its few rock pile hills, it almost looks like it could be someone's backyard. But don't let this fool you, Cougar Buttes has everything Johnson Valley has but in a much smaller and more accessible area. Everything from high speed sandy roads to some of the most extreme rock crawling and Jeeping in all of the United States. Whether you are into rock crawling, some 4x4'ing, pre-running dirt roads, overlanding, or simply just want to take a short vacation. Cougar Buttes should be your place on your next trip.

Trail Difficulty and Assessment

Trail Navigation

Cougar Buttes, has everything Johnson Valley has but in just a fraction of the area. The area has everything from high speed sand roads and geocaches to rock crawling ranging from simple to extreme. What makes this area different from most others is there aren't many official trails, but just an area you can try to explore and see how far you can make it. The best example of the area would be to think of desert rocky terrain you would see in Star Trek. Cougar Buttes would be something like that. There are several named trails in the area. Even though the trails are named, they are very hard to follow due to the lack of signage or obvious paths. Those trails are; Hammer Down, Bull Frog, Cake Walk, Split Fingers, and The Skull.

Trail Reviews

5/5 (9)
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Rated 5/5
Visited: 05/14/2023
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

Hit this area on a whim and had a great time. There were some great camp areas that motorhomes and trailers couldd get too. It was definitely a scavenger hunt finding the obstacles and did most of the challenge routes forward and backward just because we got turned arround. Finally started to use the GPS with the app had an easier nav, but still was off trail 50%. There were some areas with no Tire Marks and some pretty hairy boulders, but with the right rig, looked like a blast. The 07 JK on 35's with 2 1/12" lift used the rock rails and had a few hard bumps, but it handled it with perfection. As a bonus there are a few GEO cashes hidden in the rocks that made fun side quests.
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Rated 5/5
Visited: 03/12/2023

This place is amazing and such a great place to go with a few other rigs and push your limits. Here’s a little recap video of our trip there last week!
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Official Crew
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Rated 5/5
Visited: 02/19/2023
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

Went here with a large group, we mostly did bullfrog but there are so many different bypasses and optional obstacles that it's hard to tell what trail you are on. It's a super fun area, I definitely will be back.
Rated 5/5
Visited: 04/03/2022
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

This is a choose your own adventure trail. There are dozens of parallel paths cut in the landscape to make your way toward the rock formations. The formations are very cool to see up close.
Trail Review: Cougar Buttes - George Deyarmond
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Official Crew
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Temporary Closure
Visited: 04/27/2021

This is the weekend for Military use... Make other plans if you are going to be in the shared use area

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