Santiago Peak via Holy Jim Trail
Santiago Peak via Holy Jim Trail Quick Facts
Adventure Pass required
Allow 7 hours
3,920′ of elevation gain
15 miles out and back
Hot and exposed in Summer, so bring enough water
Getting to the trailhead is quite an ordeal. By the time you make the 5 mile trip down one of that miserable dirt road to the parking lot, you’re going to be exhausted. Once you finally arrive, there are is a restroom, and a Wilderness Pass is required for parking.
You will start up the road that winds through a neighborhood of cabins, then you will come to a sign for the trailhead. The trail follows a creek and eventually climbs out of the canyon via steep switchbacks. A lot of the first several miles of the hike is shaded. As you pass the 3-mile marker you will start to see the ocean. You will keep climbing, then decent into a creek drainage that brings you to a utility/fire road. When you get to the road, go left up the mountain.
As you move up the road you will see greater views of the coast. Eventually, you get to the crest of the mountain where you will have great views of the inland mountains – San Gorgonio, San Jacinto, Cucamonga, Baldy. These are the best views on the mountain so enjoy them. In another mile, you will reach the summit, which is anticlimactic. You will be greeted by a bunch of buzzing cell towers. They are ugly and they block every great view. Santiago is a great hike on those days when you are locked out of the higher mountains because of snow and want to maintain your fitness. When the snow thaws a little, get yourself back to the high country!
The best walkthrough on this hike is by Hike Likers. Check it out before you go.
Holy Jim Trailhead
From the main highway, you will take a poorly maintained dirt road called Trabuco Creek Rd. for 5 miles, past the volunteer fire department to the trailhead parking lot. A high clearence vehicle is recommended. This road sucks, so get mentally ready for it 🙂