The Saddle Pass Trail is a very short, very steep 1/4 mile trail, that takes you directly up the side of the hill. For most of the way, this trail must have an incline of at least 25%, and maybe more. It's just as intense as climbing a very long flight of stairs. A real butt kicker with a backpack and 90 degree weather!
Despite the effort, the rewards are great. About halfway up, an incredible view of the surrounding lowlands begins to appear. You just have to remember to turn around and look at it, which won't be a problem, because you'll be needing an excuse to stop and catch your breath!
At the end of this trail we connected to the Medicine Root Trail which was a lot easier and an excellent way to really get the feel of the badlands. Climbing up and through the Badlands wall gives an appreciation for how enormous it is. When you reach the top, grasslands stretch to the horizon, interrupted by mesas and crazy fins of rock in all directions. Everything was sharp edged and surreal. There's also a lot of wildlife that makes it's home here. Scientists have observed 39 mammal species, 9 reptile species, 6 amphibian species, 206 bird species, and 69 butterfly species in this park. We actually walked up on some Bighorn Sheep that generously posed for us!
This was a pretty nice trail and we enjoyed the scenery but we both agreed that hiking in the desert is our least favorite type of hike. It was really hot and there was hardly any shade. If we hike the desert again we won't do it in the 90 degree weather! That definitely made the Badlands, badder! :)