Holy Jim Hiking Trail

Cleveland National Forest, California

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Holy Jim Hiking Trail is a hiking and biking trail in Riverside County and Orange County, California. It is within Cleveland National Forest. It is 4.6 miles long and begins at 4,169 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 9.4 miles with a total elevation gain of 4,011 feet. The Bear Spring can be seen along the trail.
Distance: mi Elevation: ft
Holy Jim Hiking Trail is a hiking and biking trail in Riverside County and Orange County, California. It is within Cleveland National Forest. It is 4.6 miles long and begins at 4,169 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 9.4 miles with a total elevation gain of 4,011 feet. The Bear Spring can be seen along the trail. This trail connects with the following: Upper Holy Jim Trail and Holy Jim Canyon Road.
Activity Type: Hiking, Horseback Riding, Mountain Biking, Road Biking, Trail Running, Walking
Nearby City: Cleveland National Forest
Distance: 4.6
Elevation Gain: 4,011 feet
Trailhead Elevation: 4,169 feet
Top Elevation: 4,174 feet
Features: Waterfalls
Accessibility: Dog-friendly, Kid-friendly
Driving Directions: Directions to Holy Jim Hiking Trail
Parks: Cleveland National Forest
Elevation Min/Max: 1891/4174 ft
Elevation Start/End: 4169/4169 ft
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Mountain Biking Southern California

Mountain Biking Southern California

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.

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Afoot & Afield: Orange County

Afoot & Afield: Orange County

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.

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100 Classic Hikes in Southern California

100 Classic Hikes in Southern California

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.

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Best Easy Day Hikes: Orange County

Best Easy Day Hikes: Orange County

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.

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Orange County: A Day Hiker's Guide

Orange County: A Day Hiker's Guide

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.

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Mountain Bike! Orange County

Mountain Bike! Orange County

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.

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Best Hikes Near Los Angeles

Best Hikes Near Los Angeles

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.

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Best Dog Hikes Southern California

Best Dog Hikes Southern California

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.

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Day Hikes Around Orange County

Day Hikes Around Orange County

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.


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Orange County: A Day Hiker's Guide

Orange County: A Day Hiker's Guide

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.

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Recent Trail Reviews

7/6/2013
0

It is an adventure just getting to the trail head, you almost need a 4x4. The 4.7 mile approach is a dirt road with deep dips and pot holes. The trail itself is beautiful, especially for So. Cal. Very green, lots of trees (which means lots of shade on the trail) and some water. We went in July after a very hot week and there was just a trickle in the waterfall. We met some people there who had been there 3 weeks before and they showed us pics of the same waterfall with a lot more water in it. The trail has a lot of rocks and it is well marked. Loved it!


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!


3/14/2009
0

We picked probably the most perfect day and weather for this hike. The sky was clear, sunny, and blue. And the vegetation and flowers were lush, green, and in full bloom. The falls were at their fullest, due to so much recent heavy rain. The trail was well maintained, and easy to follow in all but a few spots where it crosses the stream. The gorgeous trees keep the trail very well shaded for the majority of the hike. This is a great hike to do with kids, and the bumpy 5 mile dirt road out to the trail head adds to the fun and adventure (go slow, high clearance vehicles are best). Count on getting your shoes wet when the stream is full.


4/29/2007
0

Great Trail!!! A bit crowded on a Sunday afternoon, but my 12 yr old son, and our boxer (Roxy) had a great day. The hike to the falls was a great first hike for my son. There were hikers of all ages on the trail and everyone seamed to be enjoying the day. Lots of wild life to be seen.


8/13/2006
0

I was impressed to find "wilderness" within the OC. Nice trail. Interesting little cabins on the way up. Cute waterfall. No bugs (except water beatles in the stream-- careful of your toes, they bite). You definitely need a 4x4 to get to the trail head.



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May 2018