I lived in south Orange County under the shadow of Saddleback Mountain most of my childhood and always wondered what it was like way up there. Over the years I've climbed it I think 4 times as a training hike for other summits and I have to say, I don't really care for it. Exposed to the sun most of the way, the dry, hot, dusty trails among dead bushes and few trees, the swarms of flies in the summer, the indistinct summit under the radio towers looking out at the smog and haze - not quite the high-Sierras but a tough training hike from Holly Jim.
This trail is awesome up until the dirt road. Then you could end up fighting over road space with Jeeps and dirtbikes to get to the summit, the greatest display of antennaes I have ever seen.
I grew up in Orange County but had never been up Saddleback until now.
Well did not really climb it but have driven up it many times in my 4*4
Long hike which I turned into a even longer hike by adding miles for the Hiking Merit Badge. Still alot of fun though. Highest point in Orange County!
Great hike and my second time on top!
Beautiful day for a hike. Slight Santa Ana provided great views. Road to trail head was graded a few months ago and is passable by car (slowly, as there are still some rough spots). Road damage and landslides on the Main Divide between Bear Springs and Santiago Peak has also been repaired. Water is still running at Bear Springs. Perfect for topping off your water for the last three miles to the top. I saw several motorcycles on the Main Divide leading me to believe it is open between Silverado and Ortega Hwy (but don't quote me!). Wildlife spotted included Rufus-sided Towhee, California Quail, Scrub Jay, Red Tailed Hawk.
Mark A. Patton
Never hiked it, but have Mt biked up Santiago dozens of times from 1992 - 2003
I had an awesome hike today. The trail is in good shape, except there are two landslides on the Main Divide that may fool you. The view from the top is a little hazy, but the Ocean and Catalina were visible. The bugs are vicious and won't leave you alone, so bring some strong repellent. And it's no wonder we can see those radio towers from miles away... they are huge!
The rains of the past winter have caused six major landslides and two wash-outs and closed the Indian Truck Trail road for the foreseeable future. Even on foot, a couple of the slides are difficult to get by but can be negotiated with due caution. This would be a great mountain bike route.
As it is, it's more than 20 miles round trip past the now locked gate through a surprisingly green forest to a great vantage point for views in all directions.
Well what a hike. We did the whole trail, including the stretch between the two roads. I heard some people skip that and take the road cause its easier. Man it probably was.
It took me only 8hrs and 50mins to do the round trip. I feel it would have been a lot faster but I stayed slow cause of my companions.
I didnt realize how hard 16 miles in one day is on the body. But I am recovering. It felt so awsome to have this peak under my belt. I am ultimatly getting ready for San Jacinto in October and then Whitney next year.
I hope that if you are thinking of doing this hike you do it. do not let the distance and elevation turn you away.
But know that when you see the towers on the trail. Dont let it fool you. they are a lot farther then they seem.
It's very rare to experience rain on a hike in Southern California. It was a good test for some old rain gear as well as some new. My 6 year old North Face jacket felt a bit clammy while my brand new Marmot Precip pants faired extremely well. I might consider the Precip jacket as a future purchase.
The hike was a super challenge being the first of the season for me. My legs are paying the price today.
Desptie the rain it was great to see the small waterfalls and all of the wildflowers in bloom. Yellows, blues, reds, and purples smattered the green foliage. It's too bad it will all turn yellow and brown in a few months.
The best treat was spotting pairs of Mountain Quail at several locations on the trail including the summit. In my twenty-seven years of hiking Southern California mountains, this was my first sighting of these big birds. The rain this season must be great for the wildlife.
Lastly, the road through the canyon was a good test for my virgin 4Runner. I'm very pleased with the X-REAS suspension system. The deep ruts and water crossings made the car approach and exit a lot of fun. Can you tell I'm a gear-head?
We picked maybe a crumby day to climb. It rained all the way to the top, and by the top we were soaked and the wind made it very cold. No views at the top because of complete cloud cover. But it is beautiful to see all the flowers and occasional glimpses down in the canyons filled with fog. Lots mudslides and downed trees along Truck Trail. No cars are going up that way any time soon. Made it in 8 hours. All in all it was a fun trip. Got to do some hiking in wet conditions and got plenty of miles under our legs.
Great day for a hike. Had the mountain to myself. I was surprised by the amount of rain damage at Bear Spring and on the Main Divide Truck Road (landslides). From Bear Spring I went up the truck road, but came down the upper trail section on my way down. The upper trail section once again had some minor damage due to the last storm. No snow on top, but some ice was melting and falling from the radio towers. Unfortunately, clouds came in and obstructed the views, but I enjoyed seeing the wildflowers and wildlife. Had a bobcat cross the road about 30 feet in front of me about half a mile from the top.
Posted some pictures on Yahoo for all to enjoy...
Mark A. Patton
This turned out to be the weekend that the Warriors held their annual race from Black Star canyon and then out through the trail they maintain, Holy Jim. There was a lot of action out there. Almost all of the mountain bikers that we encountered were extremely friendly considering they were racing and we were slowing them down. Most of the bikers made comments like, good to see you out here using the trail.
One comment on the route description, the Warriors were using the upper section for their race, and so it was in very good condition. We had two route variations on the way. We went to the waterfall and then took a steep route up from there to the main trail. It was really steep, and towards the end more of an animal trail. It was a strenuous ~25 minutes and avoided ~45 minutes of trail. The second variation was to take the main divide road after the first stretch of Holy Jim Trail (there were just too many mountain bikers at this point). It had four sections that were either washed out or covered by huge landslides. The summit was uneventful since it was cloud covered almost all day. On the way down, we took upper Holy Jim trail. It was a lot more scenic entertaining that the road was on the way up.
The hike sure did take longer than I thought it would. Afterward, Santiago Peak looked more like a mountain than a hill to me. (I always thought of it as a hill because of it's location)
Climbed with the explorer scouts as a conditioning hike for BMTC. My daypack was an army surplus with ropes for shoulder straps, my $.49 poncho ripped apart in the wind, fog, and rain at the top.
Long day, started early and finished in a reasonable amount of time, preferred the views from modjeska peak, probably because their were a few less radio towers.
Perfect day. Temps in 60s. Clear, sunny skies. Great ride to the top.
Did this hike while staying with a buddy in Costa Mesa. I noticed this peak while commuting in-between San Diego & L.A. for work. Hot! but, enjoyable, with nice views of Orange County!