The route starts from the small parking area at the end of Silverado Canyon Road. Parking is limited and an Adventure Pass is required. If you don't have one you can pick one up at the small store about two miles back down the road. From the south take I5 to El Toro Rd. Follow El Toro until it vitually becomes Santiago Canyon Rd. Follow it west to Silverado Canyon Road and turn right. Follow it to its end - about 5.7 miles. From the west follow either Katella or Chapman to Santiago Canyon Road. Go past Irvine Lake and make a left on Silverado Canyon Road. There is one Porta Potty at the trailhead but no water or other services. Check with the forest service for closures to this route. It has been subjected to habitat preservation closures from October to April during the last two years. The Cleveland National Forest web page normally has up-to-date closure information.
This is certainly not the shortest or easiest way up to the top of the peak but it is a fairly common route used by mountain bikers, runners and fit and prepared hikers. Rarely does anyone make an over night trip of it. The total round trip is 25 miles with about 4,400' of elevation gain so expect a long day if walking. There is NO potable water along the way. The surface is rough paved road for the first couple of miles and dirt for the rest. This route may have vehicles on it from time to time but vehicle usage is low. Light hiking shoes or running shoes are recommended. The route is exposed most of the way so it is often more enjoyable during cooler times of the year. Snow has been encountered regularly in winter months at the higher elevations.
The route begins immediately after the metal gate near the parking area and route finding is easy. Follow the paved road with several crossings of seasonal water in the first two miles. The Maple Springs Truck Trail, which you are on, climbs steadily until its intersection with the Harding Truck Trail coming up from your right. This is about the 7.5 mile mark. Do not go down Harding Truck Trail. Instead continue on for about 30 yards to the intersection with the Main Divide Truck Trail where you will bear right. Both intersections are marked with metal sign posts. Nice views are to be had from this intersection toward both the San Gabriel and San Bernardino mountains. You can follow the Main Divide Truck Trail all the way to the top of the peak. Cars are allowed on this road during much of the year. Along the way you will pass an interection with the Joplin Trail leading down to your right. Stay on the main road. There are several radio antennas on the top of the peak. Return down the way you came. Strong ultra runners have made the round trip in under 4 hours. At 2 mph this trip will take you over 12 hours. Plan accordingly. Every year some unprepared hiker has to be rescued from this area because they have over estimated their ability or under estimated the trip. Views from the top are terrific and in spring the bugs can be horrific. Cell phone reception is possible from parts of this route. In my opinion, the distance and elevation gain of this trip are a good combination for those preparing for long day hikes like Mt. Whitney, even though it is at a significantly lower elevation.
An Adventure Pass is required to park at the trailhead. The pass ($5.00/day or $30.00/annual) is available at stores near the trailhead and various outdoor shops such as Adventure 16 and REI.
No special gear is required for this trip and route finding is easy. Bring plenty of water! USGS 7.5 series topos - Santiago Peak and Corona South.
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