- Home - Hiking Trails - Orange County Hiking Hike Holy Jim Falls Trail
The Holy Jim Falls Trail hike is an easy hike to a small waterfall tucked into the heart of the Santa Ana Mountains. The Holy Jim Falls Trail is family friendly and well marked.
2.8 miles (4.5 km)
Small stream crossings
Holy Jim Falls Trail Hike Directions What to Expect on the Hike The hike follows Holy Jim Creek, which is one of the tributaries of Trabuco Creek, and eventually flows out to the ocean at Dana Point. Sadly, the last grizzly bear in California was killed in Holy Jim Canyon in 1908. The hike to Holy Jim Falls is a nice, easy hike. If you want to hike to the top of Saddleback Mountain, it’s a serious effort and best left to hikers with experience and fitness. Here’s what’s involved with the hike to Saddleback Mountain. Getting to the Holy Jim trailhead best done with a high clearance vehicle, but I’ve seen regular cars like a Prius do it. It’s a dirt road for about 6 miles, with some heavily rutted sections. Just go slow. You need a parking pass for the Cleveland National Forest. I use the affordable National Parks Pass, which gets me in every national park, national monument, and national forest. You can also use an (Southern California only) Adventure Pass, or buy a $5 day permit from the ranger’s office. Turn by Turn Directions The drive to the trailhead address brings you on Trabuco Canyon Road, which is dirt. The beginning is gravel, but it gets more rutted the farther in you go. Park in any of the spots in the lot. The parking area has basic ports-potties. Read the Holy Jim Trail sign in the parking lot for any notices. If you’re looking at the sign in the last picture, you go behind it on the dirt road to the left. There are signs to help you get started, including this metal one. The start of the dirt road also has this big sign for the Holy Jim Trail. The beginning of the hike goes along a dirt road. After a few minutes on the road, you’ll go through a section of private cabins. Respect the private property and keep going straight on the dirt road. Some of the folks have free-roaming peacocks as pets. Keep your eyes open, they’re a hit with the kids. As you hike through the cabins, the direction to the trail proper is marked by signs. At about 0.6 miles, you reach the official Holy Jim Trail trailhead. Go straight through. The trail is well defined and crosses some streams. If it’s been raining heavily, you might have to rock hop across the stream. The trail climbs gradually, and is well defined. You might see some side trails to the right leading down to the creek. Stay on the main trail. The most photogenic spot occurs on this part of the hike. The trail goes through a circle of alders and oak. Look up to the left as you hike for a glimpse of the peak of Saddleback Mountain. You might come across some historical markers on the trail too, keep your eyes open. Eventually the trail drops down to the creek and then climbs back up. Right after that last trail drop, the trail splits. Head right to Holy Jim Falls. This part of the trail is much less developed, but still well marked. There are sections of the trail that are overgrown. Just move the branches and keep going. Eventually the trail will come out to and follow the rocky stream bed. It’s not well marked here. In general, stay to the left and keep your eyes open for the trail along the rocks. You made it! If there hasn’t been a heavy rain, the falls can be on the light side or even dry. If the trail dead ends at a cliff and you don’t see any water, the Holy Jim Creek is dry. Grab your selfies and head back the way you came. Happy hiking! Holy Jim Falls Trail Hike Video Please subscribe to my YouTube channel here! Show your support for my free hiking guides by checking out the deals below.↓↓↓ You can also make a small donation if you'd like, but please don't feel obligated to do so. HikingGuy.com is a labor of love because I want people to get outdoors and enjoy the trails safely. I want people to buy gear that actually works and not waste money on crap. I love helping people enjoy the outdoors, but it takes hundreds of hours of my time and hundreds of dollars of my money to add new content, maintain, and update. A small amount of money from REI affiliate sales and banners help offset my hard costs like website hosting. The content on this site will always be free for everyone to enjoy.
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There is an Orange County hiking trail for everyone, from tough mountain hikes, to hidden waterfalls, to pristine coastal hikes with ocean views. Cleveland National Forest in the east is a vast treasure trove of primitive hikes away from the malls and developments in Orange County. Because the area is somewhat affluent, the Orange County Parks Department is one of the best in the USA. And if you just need an easy hike to reconnect with nature, a beach hike is easy enough and requires little preparation.
Read More A quick note. These directions are meant as a guide for the hike, and not a definitive source. Conditions change, and the information here can be different based on time of day, weather, season, etc. There can be small side trails that you might see but I missed. I have made every effort to include all the information you need to complete the hike successfully. I recommend using this guide in conjunction with a map, GPX file, common sense, and call to the ranger station or park office. If you do the hike and notice something has changed, please contact me and I will update the guide.
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