Long Slog Up Santiago

Peak Summited2021 Santiago Peak
Type of HikeDay hike
TrailheadJoplin Trail
Road ConditionsRoad suitable for all vehicles
Bug StatusBugs were an annoyance
Snow ConditionsSnow free
Trail ConditionsMinor obstacles posing few problems

I started the “Six Pack of Peaks” challenge with a goal to experience all 11 of the hiking options. I finished that goal yesterday with Santiago Peak. Although I have already completed the “Six Pack of Peaks” challenge for 2021, I am writing this post in case it is informative for others who want to do the hike.

I had put off doing Santiago Peak for a while because getting to a trailhead seemed difficult without a high clearance vehicle.  I initially thought about driving partway up Maple Springs but decided to do Joplin Trail.  However, I had read that cars were being ticketed if they parked at the trailhead so some had recommended parking off of Trabuco Creek Road, which adds four miles to the hike for a total of 20 miles. (I did not confirm with the Forest Service if you could park closer but, toward the end of the hike, I wished I had!).

There is a lot of climbing if you hike to Santiago Peak from this route. My watch recorded about 5,500 feet of ascending.  The trail is also uneven and rocky.  However, the descent was worse for me.  My knees do not do well on this kind of terrain and I was in pain (rhyme not intended!).  The view from the peak was beautiful, allowing you to see out to the ocean (I think?) and get an up-close view of other peaks in the Santa Ana Mountains.  There is also a nice forest section that you hike through as you approach the saddle but, warning, the bugs in this section are annoying.

It was a long day but I am glad I was finally able to cross Santiago Peak off the list.




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