Main Divide Road

Hemet, California 92544

Main Divide Road

Main Divide Road Professional Review and Guide

"Main Divide Road travels along the ridge tops of the Santa Ana Mountains within Cleveland National Forest. The trail leaves Ortega Highway and immediately starts to climb steadily, passing Blue Jay USFS Campground. This is the only campground along the trail. The ridge top trail means there are no suitable campsites along the way, so Blue Jay is the best place for campers. The trail climbs steadily through the low shrub vegetation of manzanita and sugarbush toward the first of the peaks along the way—Trabuco Peak. Although narrow for much of its length, the trail is mainly easygoing. Some of the climbs are rough with a loose, uneven surface, but they are suitable for any stock high-clearance 4WD. The trail follows along a shelf road for most of its length, and there are sufficient passing places. There are many small alternate trails that crisscross the main route. These have not been mentioned in the route directions unless they are likely to confuse the navigator. Special Attractions: Long ridge top trail that makes an easy day trip from Los Angeles and San Diego; Access to many hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding trails; Highest point in Orange County—Santiago Peak (5,687 feet). High-clearance 4WDs are preferred, but any high-clearance vehicle is acceptable. Expect a rough road surface; mud and sand are possible but will be easily passable. You may encounter rocks up to 6 inches in diameter, a loose road surface, and shelf roads, though these will be wide enough for passing or will have adequate pull-offs."

Main Divide Road Reviews

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I have done this trail 2 times in the last 2 months and decided to write an official review for this trail. Both times I took my 2016 Subaru Forester XT up there with no issues. First time was completely stock. The second time was with A/T tires (Yokohama Geolanders) on which made things a bit easier. On to the trail. The Main Divide Trail begins off a dirt pull out along the road and immediately begins climbing. Terrain is mostly rocky and dusty unless it has just recently rained. The trail follows the ridgeline that overlooks Lake Elsinore to the North and the Cleveland National Forest to the Southwest. There will be some breath taking views to be had along the trail. The trails is fairly easy a majority of the time with a few areas with some spotting needed. In my car I was able to easily navigate those parts of the trail. This trail can also be accessed in middle via Indian Truck Trail and continued on to Santiago Peak to the West. The accent to Santiago Peak is the most difficult of the Trail with a small shelve road climb and a spot with some diagonal spin challenge. Overall this trail is great for being smack dead in the middle of Southern California. The trail is well traveled with other off-roading vehicles, hikers, bikers, and motorcyclists. Go early and plan to make it to Santiago peak in apprx 2.5-3 hours and then time to head back. The views are beyond worth it at the top.
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I started at the north end of the trail and it took a minute to find the "unmarked paved road" but the coordinates were pretty accurate and ended up finding it. It does say that it is a private drive and there are a few signs the first couple miles that say "private drive" but as long as you stay on the main road, you end up where you need to be. The drive was easy and enjoyable with many places to to stop and take in the views. Just about any vehicle with some clearance can make it but low range is nice for some of the steep downhills but not really required. This can be a short day drive with some stops to eat or a quick couple of hours.
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Some loose sections in the steeper parts but fairly easy.

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Trail Information

Nearby City
Trail Type
3.5 hours
Year-round; best in dry weather
1,000 feet
Trailhead Elevation
5,300 feet
Top Elevation
Cleveland National Forest
Local Contacts
USGS Alberhill, Santiago Peak, Corona South, Santa Ana
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Oct 2018