Santiago Peak via Holy Jim Trail
The views of the ocean are awesome, but the buzzing communications towers at the summit spoiled the mood for me.
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.
I started up the road that winds through a neighborhood of cabins, then followed a creek along a lush canyon. At the end of the canyon, the trail climbs steeply via steep switchbacks. The first several miles of the hike were shaded in large overgrown hedges. These abruptly ended in an ugly fire road. As I made my way up the road, I got my first view of the ocean. As I crossed the crest of the mountain, I got a great view of the ocean on one side and the inland mountains – San Gorgonio, San Jacinto, Cucamonga, Baldy, on the other. This was actually the best view of the whole hike.
It was a good fitness hike today, but I doubt I’ll be coming back. 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!
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 🙂