Holy Jim Canyon Road

Cleveland National Forest, California 92614

Distance0.5mi
Elevation Gain276ft
Trailhead Elevation1,733ft
Top1,900ft
Elevation Min/Max1733/1900ft
Elevation Start/End1733/1733ft

Holy Jim Canyon Road

Holy Jim Canyon Road is a hiking, biking, and horse trail in Orange County, California. It is within Cleveland National Forest. It is 0.5 miles long and begins at 1,733 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 1.1 miles with a total elevation gain of 276 feet. Near the trailhead there are parking and woods. Along the trail there is a residential. This trail connects with the following: Holy Jim Canyon Road, Holy Jim Hiking Trail and Trabuco Creek Road.

Holy Jim Canyon Road Professional Reviews and Guides

"Located in the Santa Ana Mountains within the Cleveland National Forest in southern Orange County. Highlights: Incredible singletrack, over 15 rutted-out, hairpin switchbacks. Hazards: 100-foot cliffs, poison sumac, and poison oak. Forest Adventure Pass required."

"Sometimes the intimacy of a tiny, hidden waterfall is more aesthetically rewarding than the thunder of a famous one. Such is the case with Holy Jim Falls.

Tucked into a short, steep canyon draining the southeast flank of Santiago Peak, the falls are seemingly remote but relatively easily reached on foot. The last stretch of trail leading to the falls may be a little overgrown with poison oak, so wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt."

"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."

"Make the long climb up Holy Jim Trail. The trail begins in a stream-fed canyon, then switchbacks up toward Santiago Peak. Before you reach the peak, turn right on Main Divide Road. It’s a long, arduous trek along the divide to the top of Trabuco Trail. You’ll make several more climbs, including a steep, grueling ascent just past the turnoff to Indian Truck Trail. When you reach Trabuco Trail, you’ll be more than ready to head downhill. Luckily, it’s a great trail, one of the best around. Charge down the length of the Trabuco Trail and then follow Trabuco Creek Road back to the trailhead."

"The hike into Holy Jim Canyon is one of the most scenic
and interesting in the Santa Ana Mountains. The hike passes
under a multitude of trees and crosses Holy Jim Creek many
times before eventually reaching the falls, a 35-foot cascade
and popular picnic spot."

"Holy Jim Trail, creek, waterfall and canyon take their names from “Cussin’ ” Jim Smith, an early Santa Ana Mountain settler who, when displeased, unleashed a string of unholy epithets. Early 20th-century mapmakers were unwilling to geographically honor such a blasphemer, so they changed his name to “Holy.” The trail is one of the most popular in the Santa Anas, though many hikers go only as far as the falls. Something of a Santa Ana Mountains sampler, the trail offers the hiker a creek, a lush canyon, a waterfall, a hike into history and, with the optional trek to Santiago Peak, a chance to conquer OC’s highest summit."

"Holy Jim Falls graces the lovely little side canyon that bears the same name. Lined with fern and riparian splendor, the hike is a popular one, and the tranquil falls, while not overpowering, are quaint, contemplative, and pretty.

In times of high water, the falls are more resplendent, but the creek crossings are also a bit trickier. This is a nice hike for all ages and it is one that won’t disappoint."

"There are three good reasons why this hike is worth the 4.5-mile jostle on an unpaved road. This is a creekside trail up a picturesque box canyon to a 20-foot waterfall that still had some water after four years of drought.

From a historical point of view, you and pooch get to hike the canyon where the last grizzly bear in Southern California was tracked and killed in 1907. On a future note, Holy Jim Falls happens to be in the heart of the proposed Grizzly Bear National Monument."

"The trek to Holy Jim Falls serves as a wonderful introduction to one of the nicest spots in the Santa Ana portion of the Cleveland National Forest. There is a spirited creek, an 18-foot cascade, a beautiful riparian canyon, and lovely oak woodlands. The falls may not be the largest, but their beauty is mesmerizing and a true escape from the urban landscape of Orange County."

"Looking up at Santiago Peak from various points near the trailhead has a way of prompting hikers to examine their plans: Do we really want to climb way up there? Well, yes you do. Admit it, Orange County’s 5,687-foot landmark peak calls to you. Well, I was referring to a kind of spiritual beckoning to the hiker, but now that we’re discussing calling, I should mention that Santiago Peak is topped with transmitting stations and thickets of antennae, so crucial these days to microwave relays and cell phone signals."

Holy Jim Canyon Road Reviews

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8/26/2011
A friend did this trail at night. Getting there was to say the least was interesting. If you have a car be careful you will get stuck. We saw a 2WD truck get stuck last night. On to the trail, I love this hike at night. We saw some deer, and some creepy crawling things. Over all great hike, not to hard, some LVL 1-2 scrambling when you get to the water fall.
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12/31/2009
The hike was nice once we got to the trail head. The 4+ miles gravel road was almost impassable by car. In fact, we parked and hiked the last mile. Either grade the road once a month or tell hikers the road is for trucks or 4-wheeldrives only..
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8/31/2009
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!
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4/19/2009
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/
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5/5/2007
use mapquest before you go. The map on this site is not accurate....the dirt road is not for sedans. it is for 4X4''s bumpy means rocks and 6-8" holes and is not suitable for most "comfort" vehicles...Never made it to the trail. Sure it is lovely.
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7/20/2006
Nice short hike with a little chalange here and there. I took my scout troop on this hike in full packs as a training hike. We went early in the morning and were the first ones up to the falls (watch out for spider webs if you try this). The road leading in really is as bad as they say so watch out for it. Overall it was a pleasent hike close by and in the morning not too crowded.
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6/27/2005
We visited Holy Jim Falls 6/26/05. The trail and creek were beautiful. The falls were somewhat of a disappointment, appeared to be a max. of 20', not the 35' cascade as listed. Gnats were a nuisance but it was a fun, scenic hike. We reached the "dirt" Trabuco Creek Rd. after 4.1 mi vs 4.4 listed. "Bumpy road" was a gross understatement, 4W drive strongly recommended.
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Trail Information

Cleveland National Forest
Nearby City
Cleveland National Forest
Parks
Dog-friendly, Kid-friendly
Accessibility
Waterfalls
Features
Cleveland National Forest Trabuco Ranger District, 1147 E. Sixth St., Corona 92879; (951) 736-1811; fs.fed.us/r5/cleveland
Local Contacts
USGS Santiago Peak; Cleveland National Forest
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Aug 2018