Anyone who hikes in Orange County knows of or has heard of Santiago Peak. It is the hikes of all hikes in OC. 16 miles! The prize for OC hikers.
Since the Santa Ana Winds had ruined my first attempt. I had to reschedule and find a new hiking partner to reach the 5,689 ft peak.
Trying to convince friends to climb OC’s biggest mountain proved to be harder than the hike itself.
After my cousin agreed to make the trip with me ( Thanks Gary). I planned our route and we met up the next morning to conquer the Santa Ana’s highest point.
The parking lot and trail head for this hike is the same as the one to Holy Jim Waterfall. A forest adventure pass is required. After parking and checking our gear we headed left onto the post trail that leads to the Holy Jim Trail.
From the parking lot you will head about a mile and a half into the canyon until you reach the junction.
Make a left here and proceed onto the Holy Jim Trail towards the Main Divide Rd. Making a right will take you to the waterfall.
Once on the trail you gradually begin to ascend the mountain for the next 4 miles until reaching the Main Divide Rd. The trail itself is a single track trail that is well shaded and in pretty good condition.
As you gain some elevation the views to the south are amazing. Getting a glimpse of the ocean and the canyon below where you started the hike.
Once you read the Main Divide Rd you can either go left or right, they both lead you to the peak. Upper Holy Jim Trail is to the right, which is steeper, but offers great views of Baldy and Gorgonio. After making a right the trail will be on your left after about an 1/8 of a mile (look for the sign). This is the route I took and the views were worth it.
After a mile or so on the Upper Holy Jim Trail you connect back up with the Main Divide Rd. Once here you will make a right and continue up towards the peak for the remainder 2 miles.
Once at the hates to the peak you can go left for views of San Jacinto and Palomar Peak our you can go right on continue to the western must part of the summit for views of all of OC, the Pacific, Catalina and Baldy
- Elevation Gain 4,000 ft
- Distance – 16 miles
- 5,689 ft above sea level
- Highest point in OC
- Creek crossings
- Adventure pass required
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Jim Whittington said:
This is one of the best hikes in Southern California! The trail is well graded, well maintained, and in good condition (except for the mountain biker rut damage). The views are really terrific, and this is the easiest way to see all of the local mountains. The road to the trailhead is actually rougher than the trail. I think the best time to do this is after a winter storm when visibility is unrestricted. During my last trip (Feb 2013) there was snow for the last mile or so, but it was melting and not a problem. Highly recommended!