Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
5,797.00 ft (1,766.93 m)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
16.00 mi (25.75 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Santiago Peak (also called Saddleback Mountain) rises to 5,698 feet above sea level and is the highest peak in Orange County, as well as the Santa Ana Mountain Range. The route described here is a 16-mile out-and-back from the Holy Jim Trailhead to the summit and back. The trail is a popular spot for hikers, trail runners, backpackers, and mountain bikers. 

It is a challenging and steep climb to the summit, with over 4,000 feet of elevation gain. It is surrounded by lush vegetation and offers incredible views of the city. Look west towards the ocean on a clear day for views of Catalina Island.

The Holy Jim Trail is the most popular route to Santiago Peak, offering flowing streams, large trees, and a scenic waterfall. The trail is located in a rainforest-like environment with ferns, mosses, large fig trees, and various animals.  

DIRECTIONS

  • From the Holy Jim Parking Area, follow signs for the Holy Jim Trail. 

  • 1.4 miles into the trek the trail reaches a junction. Keep left to stay on route to Santiago Peak, or turn right and add a brief out and back to the Holy Jim waterfall.

  • Continue along a steady uphill with mile markers helping guide the way.

  • At mile 5 you will reach another junction, stay to the right, and follow the Main Divide Road (a dirt road) for .5 to the Upper Holy Jim Trail.

  • Turn left when you reach the Upper Holy Jim Trail.

  • Continue to climb in the direction of the radio antennas, that is the top of Santiago Peak. 

  • Retrace your steps to return back to the trailhead and the start. 

 

PARKING

Parking is available at the Holy Jim Falls Trailhead (an Adventure Pass may be required). The trailhead is located off Trabuco Canyon Road, several miles are unpaved and 4-wheel drive vehicles are recommended.  

SEASONAL ROAD CLOSURES

Roads in the area may be subject to seasonal and/or environmental closures. For more information please visit https://www.fs.usda.gov/detailfull/cleveland/alerts-notices/?cid=stelprdb5340229

MORE INFORMATION

Trabuco Ranger District - 1-(951)-736-1811

USFS - https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/cleveland/recreation/hiking/recarea/?recid=81640&actid=50

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

Adventure Pass required

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Waterfall. Scenic Views.

Cons

Radio Antennas on summit may obstruct some of the view. Trail may be crowded on weekends.

Trailhead Elevation

1,699.00 ft (517.86 m)

Highest point

5,698.00 ft (1,736.75 m)

Features

Backcountry camping
Waterfalls
Wildlife
Big vistas
Wildflowers

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

Nearby Adventures

Los Angeles Metro Area, California
Los Angeles Metro Area, California
Los Angeles Metro Area, California

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