Holy Jim Falls Holy Jim Canyon

Trabuco Canyon, California

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6 Reviews
5 out of 5
Holy Jim Canyon was named for a foul-mouthed beekeeper and shepherd named “Cussin’ ” Jim Smith who lived in the canyon during the 1890s. The canyon sits on the southeast flank of 5,687-foot Santiago Peak (Old Saddleback), the highest peak in the Santa Ana Mountains and Orange County. The eight-mile Holy Jim Trail climbs the canyon from Trabuco Canyon up to the peak. En route, the trail leads to Holy Jim Falls in a lush, narrow box canyon, then continues up to Bear Spring at the Main Divide Road. The popular trail parallels Holy Jim Creek in the lower portion of the picturesque, tree-filled drainage. The trail crosses the creek numerous times. This hike ends on a short spur by a pool at the base of the 18-foot Holy Jim Falls, which cascades out of a notch in a fern-covered rock wall.
Day Hikes Around Orange County

DESCRIPTION FROM:

Day Hikes Around Orange County

by Robert Stone (Day Hike Books)

Holy Jim Canyon was named for a foul-mouthed beekeeper and
shepherd named “Cussin’ ” Jim Smith who lived in the canyon during the 1890s. The canyon sits on the southeast flank of 5,687-foot Santiago Peak (Old Saddleback), the highest peak in the Santa Ana Mountains and Orange County. The eight-mile Holy Jim Trail climbs the canyon from Trabuco Canyon up to the peak. En route, the trail leads to Holy Jim Falls in a lush, narrow box canyon, then continues up to Bear Spring at the Main Divide Road.

The popular trail parallels Holy Jim Creek in the lower portion of the picturesque, tree-filled drainage. The trail crosses the creek numerous times. This hike ends on a short spur by a pool at the base of the 18-foot Holy Jim Falls, which cascades out of a notch in a fern-covered rock wall.


© 2017 Robert Stone/Day Hike Books. All Rights Reserved.

Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Trabuco Canyon
Distance: 2.6
Elevation Gain: 650 feet
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Skill Level: Easy to Moderate
Duration: 1.5 hours
Season: Year-round
Features: Waterfalls
Accessibility: Dog-friendly
Local Maps: U.S.G.S. Santiago Peak • Cleveland National Forest map
Driving Directions: Directions to Holy Jim Falls: Holy Jim Canyon

Recent Trail Reviews

4/19/2011
0

Great trail, I've been twice in the summer and there was still a good amount of water. Make sure you're not driving your dad's Mustang up to the trail head, it won't work. The road is very rocky and gets narrow at some points. And believe me, do not park your car on Trabuco Creek Rd and try to walk to the trail head, it's a long walk. When you reach the waterfall the cliffs on the right side of the water are easily climbable. I would like to see how far back the creek runs but I'll have to save that for a day when it's not too hot. I definitely recommend this hike, but it can get kind of crowded on the weekends so come early!


8/31/2009
0

A hot day with temperatures reaching 100-105 out of the shade, and 90's in the shade. Driving to the trailhead demands a higher than usual centered vehicle. Do not take a Prius! The rutted, stoney path will have you stuck - so beware! On the way to the trailhead the path gets smaller and you pass a couple of 'water' areas which in winter have water running over the road surface but in summer are dry, concrete pathways. AS you wind along the canyon toward the trailhead, the road narrows and you pass the volunteer fire station and a few old houses that people live in. Trailhead has parking for a few cars and an Adventure Pass is required for this hike. Walking up the leafy canopied trail for 30 minutes brings you to a marker - right is easier than left! A further two hours of undulating tree lined path gives you 2000ft elevation gain and, with a small detour, a magnificent view of Lake Elsinore. Total time between 1:30 and 2:30 dependent on number of stops and speed of party. Total distance around 12 miles with the Elsinore detour at the top. Highly recommended, good workout, great views. Bug repellent and sun screen needed!


4/19/2009
0

This easy scenic 2.8 mile historic hike to a waterfall makes Holy Jim Trail one of the most popular hikes in Orange County. Dog-friendly and kid-friendly, best in the spring season. (Date Hiked: March 14, 2009 and April 19, 2009.) Read the full trail write-up at: http://www.greeneadventures.com/2011/02/07/holy-jim-falls-one-of-orange-countys-best-known-hikes/


10/25/2008
1

I do believe that this is my favorite short hike in Orange County. It offers a moderately strenuous trek with surprisingly lush vegetation. The trail guide is pretty much on the mark except I will concur with an earlier reviewing in that I would not recommend taking a sedan or family van on the dirt road leading to the trail head. A higher-centered vehicle would be more appropriate for the oft dusty and rocky access. If you want to add some milage to the hike, park at the edge of the Cleveland National Forest boundary and walk the 1.6 miles to the trailhead, but be cautious of vehicles passing by; they can kick up road dust and locals seem to drive in excess of the posted 15 mph speed limit. But that extra milage will give you nice, shady views of Trabuco Creek. I'd also recommend wearing some insect repellant during the dryer months. The creek stops flowing allowing still water mosquito pools to form. Last note: Don't forget your ADVENTURE PASS if you park near the trail head.


7/30/2006
1

A very nice hike (according to this site, it is the #27 most popular hike in the country - visit the top 100 page) but as you would expect, a bit crowded on weekends. The pool and waterfall at the end are beautiful but small, and definitely not conducive to large groups. More than 6-8 people will definitely start to feel crowded, and we quickly felt the pressure to move on (within about 20 mins or so) as additional people arrived. Still, it was a very worthwhile hike. If you can do it a week day or other non-peak occasion, so much the better.



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Apr 2018