Added by Doug Hall
If you are looking for a short but sweet hike in Southern California this is a go to! The waterfall ending makes it a must.
To start, directions on how to get to the trail there are two different ways, the most common , which I will explain, being through Rancho Santa Margarita you will head east on Santa Margarita Parkway, turn left at the dead end (into a parking lot for a shopping center) on Plano Trabuco Road, this will then turn left and the road will change to Trabuco Canyon Road. Stay on Trabuco Canyon Road as you head down a couple of switchbacks, at the bottom of the hill turn right onto a large dirt road. The dirt road starts as a large dirt parking lot that is hard to miss. Head down that dirt road for quite a ways and you will get to a point where you will see few cabins. Pass the cabins and you will see a pretty decent sized dirt lot where you can park for the start of the trail, there will be a port-a-potty in the parking lot. The trail head is down a dirt road to the left of the parking lot, once you get to the end of that road you will see Holy Jim Trailhead! The dirt road you must drive down to reach the parking lot does not need 4 wheel drive but be cautious if there was a recent rain storm!
With little elevation at the start you will hike up the trail and stay to the left when you get to a branch that will take you all the way to the top of Saddleback Mountain. The hike takes about a total of an hour and a half if you spend sometime hanging out at the beautiful waterfall at the end of the trail. You also have the option of climbing up the side of the waterfall if you want a little challenge, it's not for everyone though! There is plenty of tree coverage so you don't have to worry about being stuck in the sun the entire time!
You are supposed to have an adventure pass to park at the parking lot where the trail head starts from, make sure you stop by in Trabuco Canyon to pick one up so you are able to park your car. There is plenty of parking with a port-a-potty at the start. Be careful for mountain bikers on the trail as well, they can surprise you!
- Make sure you bring plenty of water as there are no drinking fountains
- Bring a snack
- A camera to catch some awesome shots of the Cleveland National Forest
- Hiking shoes/boots are good but just any active running or waking shoe will do the trick, make sure not to step in the small water crossings if you aren't wearing waterproof shoes though!
Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.
Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More
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