Horsethief Peak is an unnamed peak located Santa Ana Mountains, part of the Peninsular Range of Southern California. Located between Trabuco Peak and Los Pinos Peak, Horsethief Peak sits at an elevation of 4,313ft. Horsethief Peak has 346ft of prominence and just under a 1.5 miles of isolation from its highest neighbor, Trabuco Peak.
The views from this peak are just as good as any other peak in the range- with sweeping views of the Inland Empire, the Pacific Ocean, San Jacinto Mountains, San Gabriel Mountains and the San Bernardino Mountains. Along any approach (especially along the Main Divide Road), one is provided with these views nonstop. Also, this is a great peak to get away from the crowds that can often be found on Santiago Peak. The area still receives a fair amount of attention, however, it is less frequented then other areas.
As said above, this is an unnamed peak. But, as said before, it is definately a peak with 346ft of prominence and around 1.5 miles of solitude from Trabuco Peak. There isn't really a defined name for this peak. Two names that I had heard from looking around were Main Divide Peak (due to the Main Divide Truck Trail that runs around it) and Horsethief Peak (due to the fact that the West and East Horsethief Trails lead up either side of the peak). At first, I had this peak labeled as "Main Divide Peak", but I opted to go with "Horsethief Peak as it seemed a little more fitting. If anyone has any more information as to the name of this peak, let me know
Route InfoThe are a few possible routes to this peak, all of which require you to go on Main Divide Road.
The Main Divide Road from Blue Jay Campground is the shortest route. Its about 6 miles round trip and follows the service road for the entire time. Its easy hiking with about 1700ft of elevation gain.
The East Horsthief Trail starts just outside of Lake Elsinore and is VERY steep with about 2500ft of elevation gain in under 4 miles. Rumor has it that it is not very well maintained, but that is just a rumor.
The West Horsethief Trail begins at the end of Trabuco Creek Road in Trabuco Canyon and follows the Trabuco Canyon Trail. The trail then splits and the West Horsetheif Trail works its way up to the Main Divide Road. This part of the trail is around 4 miles. Horsethief Peak is just .50 miles south along the Main Divide Road.
Alternate approaches can be made from the Holy Jim Trail or from the Trabuco Canyon Trail. All approaches this peak require only basic hiking. When approaching the summit, it is covered in chaparral. Its attainable, but a challenge.
An Adventure Pass is necessary in order to park at the trailhead. You can purchase a $5 day pass or purchase a $30 year pass at local shops or at sporting good stores.
Also, the Cleveland National Forest periodically closes the forest roads to cars for maintenance or for other reasons. Forest road closures will only affect those depending upon the forest service roads for access. Main Divide Road is closed to cars quite often.
If you take Trabuco Creek Road in order to access Trabuco Canyon Trail, the West Horsethief Trail or the Holy Jim Trail, depending upon when you go, Trabuco creek may be a driving issue to do high water. Avoid taking this trail during very wet periods, after and during storms.
CampingThere are two campgrounds in the vicinity of Horsethief Peak that provide great access.
The first is Blue Jay Campground. This campground has great access to the Main Divide Road (the shortest route to Los Pinos Peak). Also, the upper trailhead for the San Juan Trail (a big attraction for mountain bikers) begins at Blue Jay Campground.
The second ishref="http://www.ocparks.com/oneillpark/">O'Neil Regional Park, which is an oak tree covered campground in Trabuco Canyon maintained by Orange County. This campground is best for those who wish to take the Trabuco Canyon Trail, West Horsethief or the Holy Jim Trail to Main Divide Peak.
Getting ThereTo Trabuco Canyon from Orange County- Directions taken from the SummitPost Holy Jim Trail Page by Scott M..)
If you are approaching from points north you should either exit the 55 freeway at Chapman and head east or Interstate 5 at Jamboree heading north. Where Jamboree and Chapman intersect in east Orange (gas and market) you will either go straight if coming from the 55 on Chapman or turn right if coming up Jamboree on to Santiago Canyon Road. Follow Santiago Canyon Road for just less than 13 miles to Live Oak Canyon Road. You will be turning left here. There is a popular road house for the "Harley crowd" here at this intersection known as Cook's Corner.
If approaching from the south exit off Interstate 5 at El Toro Road and go north for about 7.5 miles to this same intersection. You will be turning right here.
From Cook's Corner head east for about 4.4 miles to a fairly obvious wash. You will pass a small store on your left and O'Neill Park on your right. The store is your last chance for supplies. Adventure Passes may be available at the store.
Turn left up on the dirt road (Trabuco Creek Road) immediately after the wash and follow this rough road for 4.7 miles to the trailhead parking area. No services or piped water. The parking area is immediately after the Holy Jim Fire Station (unmanned). Be sure to display your Adventure Pass. Note: After heavy rains this road may be tough to negotiate since it crosses Trabuco Creek several times (no bridges). Other than these times 4WD is not normally required but high ground clearance is recommended. Passenger cars can make the trip with caution.
After the turn the parking for the Holy Jim Trail, Trabuco Creek Road continues on to the Trabuco Canyon Trail. The Trabuco Canyon Trail starts when Trabuco Creek Road Ends.
(Note:The 241 toll road makes a nice short cut over to Santiago Canyon Road if you are approaching from the Inland Empire on the 91 freeway. From the 91 head south on the 241 to Santiago Canyon Road. Head east for about 11 miles to Live Oak Canyon road. See directions given from there in previous paragraphs.)
To the Main Dive Road from Lake Elsinore-If your heading North on the 15 Freeway, take a left onto Central Avenue (and a right if your heading South). Take a right on Collier Avenue. Then take a left on Riverside Drive and follow this for a long time (around 4 miles). It turns into Grand Avenue when the road curves around the West shore of Lake Elsinore. Then, take a right onto the Ortega Hwy (Hwy 74) and follow this for 5.1 miles until you crest a summit. Take a right onto North Main Divide Road and follow this for 3.8 miles until you see a big turnout on the right side. This is where Main Divide Road Starts. The gate may or may not be open. If it is, you can drive up Main Divide Road and save yourself some energy. If you go a mile further, you will reach Blue Jay Campground.
To Bishop Canyon from Lake Elsinore- If your coming from the South, take the Central Avenue/Hwy 74 Exit and take a left (a right if your coming from the other way). Take a right on Collier (still Hwy 74), then take a left onto Riverside Drive (still Hwy 74). Follow this for awhile and then take a right onto Lakeshore Drive. Again, follow this for awhile and then take a right at Lake Street. Then, take a left at Mountain Street. Once you reach a dirt road, Mountain Street turns into Billing Lane. There is a dirt road that comes out from a canyon to the left- this is where the East Horsethief Trail starts.
Cleveland National Forest- Trabuco Ranger District
Keith Fletcher, District Ranger
1147 East Sixth Street
Corona, CA 92879
Cleveland National Forest
Cleveland National Forest website
Current conditions of the forest service roads.
A list of established campground in the Cleveland National Forest.