This is a must do hike for any Orange County Hiker!
Via the Holy Jim route to the top of Saddleback: From Cooks corner take live oaks canyon road heading toward O'Neil Regional park. Keep going until you pass Trabuco Creek, after which make a left and head up Trabuco Canyon Road (dirt road) if you keep going on live oaks canyon road you will run into the back of Rancho Santa Margarita and have gone too far. The trailhead is several miles in on the dirt road and is just past the volunteer fire house. I would recommend a truck with good clearance as some parts of the road are a little rough. A Forest Adventure Pass is needed to park at the trailhead.
The trail is 16 miles roundtrip with an elevation gain of around 4,000 feet. Santiago Peak is the highest point in Orange County and sits at 5,687 feet. It is the best view in all of Orange County. The trail starts out in Holy Jim Canyon. The first mile and a half is in the canyon where there is lots of shade and usually water in the creek. However, once you split off from the trail going to the main divide road there is not as much shade available (There is a sign at the split). Make sure to bring plenty of water and sunscreen. The trail is well maintained and most likely when you go you will see someone on the trail. When you hit the main divide road make a left and follow the road all the way to the top and enjoy. It will be about an 8 hour hike for most. It all depends on how long you enjoy the views at the top.
The Forest Adventure Pass is available from: http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/sanbernardino/ap/
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