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Chasing 4x4s up Santiago!

Peak Summited2021 Santiago Peak
Type of HikeDay hike
TrailheadMaple Springs
Road ConditionsRoad rough but passable
Bug StatusNo bugs
Snow ConditionsSnow free
Trail ConditionsTrail in good condition
Additional Informationhttps://www.instagram.com/p/CPPH3vUJNfG/

My women's hiking group has a contingent doing the Six Pack, and I was going to join some of them for Mt. Wilson on the 23rd. Unfortunately, a week ago I moved to Silver Lake, which means that a walk to go get coffee is basically a stairmaster workout, and going from a totally flat neighborhood to one with giant hills has done a number on my long-suffering lower back. But I wanted to get in a hike, and Santiago looked notably easier, so I decided to give it a shot.

What I apparently hadn't read up on is the fact that there are two Maple Springs trailheads. One of them is basically at the bottom of the mountain. Not super realistic for a day hike. The other — and that's the one on AllTrails — involves going past the first trailhead parking lot and then off-roading to about 4,000 feet of elevation. Finally, the reason why I drive a Jeep! But, this does add about another 45 minutes to the drive from LA, which meant I didn't actually start hiking until almost noon. Oops.

The Maple Springs trail is not difficult at all. It's a steady uphill for a bit, then a flat stretch as the trail sweeps around the side of adjacent Modjeska Peak, then uphill again until the summit. At the lower elevations, there are tons of very cool yucca plants; you can also see all the way to the Pacific, but it was hazy when I hiked so the views that far out were a bit obscured. There are really just two things to be aware of: one, it's a very exposed trail, so please wear more sunscreen than I did and pack a ton of water. Two, you can actually drive an off-road-friendly car or ride a motocross bike to the summit, and a lot of people do that. (You'll also see some mountain bikers.) The trail is barely wide enough for a pickup truck, so expect to have to walk over to the side of the trail and stop to let trucks pass pretty regularly. I also would recommend having a neck gaiter to pull up when they do — the trail is very dusty and the wheels of trucks and SUVs kick up a lot. But the people driving to the summit tend to be very impressed when they see someone hiking the whole way up, so expect to get cheers and high fives!

This is a good trail if you are working up to longer hikes and have to get your feet used to putting in almost 10 miles of work without the hike itself being crazy strenuous. You definitely don't need poles. There's a tiny bit of scrambling to get to the true summit and get that selfie with the sign, but it's totally doable. And the views are great!

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