So here we go folks, Holy Jim Trail. This is my version of a "walkabout" because I have never done this trail before and want to go explore it. :-)
As always, please wear comfortable, sturdy shoes/boots and bring plenty of water. An Adventure Pass is required to park at the trailhead and can be purchased at REI for $5. As an added incentive to carpool (I can take two others), I will be happy to purchase the pass in advance. Just let me know who you are carpooling and I will pick it up for you. ***Please also note, the ride up to the trailhead is not for slick, expensive, low-riding sports cars. Please drive up there with your vehicle at your own risk.***
So if you are up for some adventure, don those hiking boots and let's go get lost!
Directions to trailhead:
From Interstate 5, exit at El Toro Road and go north for about 7.5 miles to "Cook's Corner". This is where El Toro Rd splits. The left hand split will be E. Santiago Canyon Rd, but you will be turning right on Live Oak Canyon Road.
From Cook's Corner head east for about 4.4 miles to a fairly obvious wash. You will pass a small store on your left and O'Neill Park on your right. The store is your last chance for supplies. Adventure Passes may be available at the store.
Turn left up on the dirt road (Trabuco Creek Road) immediately after the wash and follow this rough road for 4.7 miles to the trailhead parking area. No services or piped water. The parking area is immediately after the Holy Jim Fire Station (unmanned). Be sure to display your Adventure Pass. Note: After heavy rains this road may be tough to negotiate since it crosses Trabuco Creek several times (no bridges). Other than these times 4WD is not normally required but high ground clearance is recommended. Passenger cars can make the trip with caution.
Trabuco Creek Road continues on to a different trailhead, past some private residences for a couple of miles, at a dead end. Use the fire station as your indicator to stop.
The trail to the falls is not difficult. It crosses through Holy Jim Creek many times, rising gently until you reach the fork. At the fork, take the trail to the right for about 1/4-mile. Allow at least 1- 1/2 hours for a relaxed round trip. For the 5 -mile trek to Main Divide, take the left trail at the fork.
Stop 1: Holy Jim's cabin.
Remnants of the stone wall are all that remain of Jim's 1870 house. The house was burned to the ground along with the hundreds of bee hives from which Jim made his living. The original fig orchard was also burned by the fire, but as can be seen, subsequent generations of figs have survived and are numerous in the canyon today.
Stop 2: The Talking Mountain
Looking northwest up to the ridgeline you can see Santiago Peak, or the "talking mountain", named for the many electronic antennaes and transmitting stations at the summit. From Santiago Peak, cellular telephone and microwave signals are transmitted all over the Los Angeles basin.
Santiago Peak was called Kalawpa by the Luiseno Indians, who knew it as the home of a powerful spirit. Later the Spanish named it Santiago Peak, however at 5,687 feet above sea level, it is easily recognized by the local residents who call it, together with its neighbor Modjeska Peak, "Old Saddleback."
Stop 3: Wildfires and Downed Trees
In July of 1908, two hunters failed to extinguish their campfire at the junction of Trabuco and Holy Jim Canyons. The escaped fire swept through both canyons and charred over 4,000 acres. The hunters were apprehended by the Forest Service and fined for the damage their carelessness had caused.
Stop 4: Picnic Rock.
In the stream you will see a structure made of fieldstone and cement spanning Holy Jim creek. This is a weir or "check dam," created to provide deep pools for fish. The gap in the check dam can be closed off, blocking the water flow and creating a pool behind the dam. The numerous dams were built in the 1950's by California Department of Fish and Game. Picnic Rock is a popular spot to pause on the way back from the falls.
Opposite "Picnic Rock," on the eastside of the trail, is an ancient oak that may be 500 years old.
As the trail rises and bears west, a fork in the trail appears. The left fork leads to the Main Divide Road, a difficult, hot, and dry 5-mile hike. For the short 1/4 mile hike to the falls, take the right fork and follow the creek until you reach the falls.
Read more: http://www.gorp.com/parks-guide/travel-ta-cleveland-national-forest-hiking-sidwcmdev_065897.html#ixzz2GyiVfoPQ