Santiago Peak and the Cleveland National Forest

Reaching the highest point in Orange County is easier than you think.

At an elevation of 5,689 feet, Santiago Peak looks out from the Cleveland National Forest in the heart of SoCal as the highest peak in Orange County. The Cleveland National Forest is a large segmented protected area stretching from the south of San Diego to the north of Orange County and Riverside, with Santiago Peak in the northernmost section bordered by Santiago Canyon Road and Interstate 15. The summit is highly accessible to hikers and mountain bikers via the Main Divide Road, which stretches north to south – with connections – from California State Route 91 to State Route 74 (Ortega highway).

Coal Canyon Trail connects to the Santa Ana River Trail in the north and the paved Long Canyon Road loop connecting to Ortega Highway in the south. The north section also features connections from Blackstar Canyon Road doubletrack (west), Bedfort Motorway dirt road (east) and Skyline Dr. doubletrack (east). The “peak section” of Main Divide Road starts in the north from a spot known locally as “Four Corners”, where the northern section of Main Divide meets the Maple Springs and Harding Truck Trail doubletracks.

South of the peak, Main Divide connects to the Lower Holy Jim Trail singletrack, Indian Truck Trail doubletrack (connecting to Riverside), and West Horsethief Trail singletrack (which meets at the base of Lower Holy Jim trail at the dirt Trabuco Creek Road).

TransportationCatalina Flyer, or Catalina Express
Distance44.4 miles
Ride TypeLoop
Route TypePaved dirt roads and gravel - knobby tires required
Climbing6,500 ft'
DifficultyIntermediate
Estimated Ride Time3 hrs

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