Hike Indian Truck Trail to Santiago Peak

Hike Indian Truck Trail to Santiago Peak

In This Guide
  • Turn by Turn Hike Directions & Video
  • How to Get to the Indian Truck Trail
  • Indian Truck Trail Maps
Distance21 miles (33.8 km)
Hike Time10-12 Hours (Total)
DifficultyHard
Total Ascent (?)4,910 feet (1497m)
Highest Elevation5,689 feet (1734m)
Fees & PermitsFree
Dog FriendlyOff Leash Okay
Park ContactCleveland National Forest
Park Phone951-736-1811

The Indian Truck Trail offers an alternate way to hike Santiago Peak (Saddleback Mountain). It’s not a rustic single-track trail like  the Santiago Peak hike from Lower Holy Jim Trail, but instead includes some wider Forest Service dirt roads (Indian Truck Trail is also known as forest road 5S01). You might see a few 4x4s or mountain bikes, but otherwise it’s very mellow.  It’s a beautiful hike, so don’t let this stop you.

If you’re training for the Mt Whitney hike, Indian Truck Trail is a good training option. It’s roughly the same distance and climbing. The hike is a good way to get the miles in and get your body and gear prepped for a long day. What it doesn’t have is the thin air and high altitude.

Getting to the Indian Truck Trail

Thank you to my friend Sam whose updated me on the parking situation. It looks like they’ve started building a housing development where the old trailhead was, but there’s still plenty of free parking. The new streets are not on some maps services yet, but the trailhead address here should get you close enough on Google Maps, and the following update from Sam should fill in the rest.

Trailhead starts from 1 street south of Towhee, and NOT from Towhee as indicated by the Google Map. There’s construction activity for new houses in the area and trail now starts from Peony Dr, specifically at Peony Dr / Kingbird Dr intersection . According to Google Maps, the builder extended Kingbird west a few blocks. Peony runs parallel 1 block west of Towhee. There’re ample street parking at the intersection.

The trailhead address is: 1472 Kingbird Drive, Corona, CA, 92883, USA.

Gear For the Hike

In the summer this hike has very little shade and can be very hot. One time I did this in summer and the temperature at 2pm as 106F. Be prepared and leave before dawn if you want to beat the heat. And if it’s cool out, expect the temperature to drop significantly as you climb.

Here’s the gear that I personally use, have tested, and recommend for this hike*.

Osprey Talon

Osprey Talon 33

My best lightweight pack for hikes between 3-10+ hours. I use mine with the 3L water bladder from Osprey.

Women’s Reviews

Men’s Reviews

Garmin Inreach Mini Beacon

Garmin InReach Mini

You can text, SOS, and get weather in the backcountry where your cell phone doesn’t work. Literally a life-saver.

Lowest Prices

My In-Depth Review

La Sportiva Spire

La Sportiva Spire GTX

Modern materials mean you get the protection of a traditional hiking boot (waterproof, etc.) with feel of a sneaker.

Women’s Reviews

Men’s Reviews

Black Diamond Trekking Poles

Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Poles

If you’re not using poles yet, you should be. This model takes a beating, is light, and is super comfortable.

See The Reviews

Socks Sock Liners

2-Layer Sock System

I use a light inner toe sock and then a top-quality outer sock to prevent blisters.

Injinji Sock Liners

Darn Tough Socks

Probar

Nutritionally Dense Superfoods

Probars are great: no preservatives, vegan, low-GI, compact, and tasty. Put good fuel in your body.

See the Probar Flavors

Make sure you have all the right gear before hitting the trail!HikingGuy Best Gear List

* No company pays me to promote or push a product, all the gear you see here is gear I use and recommend. If you click an REI link and buy gear, I get a small commission that helps offset website expenses. There is no cost to you.

Indian Truck Trail to Santiago Peak Trail Maps

Click To View Map

Hike Indian Truck Trail to Santiago Peak Map Downloads

Download the Hike GPX File

View a Printable PDF Hike Map

Here’s what I use to navigate my hikes. I recommend a combination of paper and electronic options with backups.

Gaiagps

Gaia GPS

Gaia GPS is a planning and navigation tool that you can use on your phone, tablet, and the web. I use it on my phone when I need to interact with the map and know where my position is on it. I use it at home on the computer to plan routes. You can overlay maps such as public lands to find out free places to camp. It’s a powerful tool.

HikingGuy Discount on Gaia GPS

Fenix Nav

Garmin Fenix Watch

This thing does everything: maps, GPX tracks, compass, barometer, altitude, heart rate, blood oxygen, fitness tracking, sleep tracking, and the list goes on. I keep a GPX route on the watch so I can quickly glance down and make sure I’m in the right place.

Fenix Prices & Reviews

My In-Depth Review

Topo Map

Topo Maps & Guide Books

Don’t be caught out if your batteries die. Take a topo map with you on the trail. Some people also print my guides out for use on the hike.

I also highly recommend taking a map and compass navigation course. It’s a few hours, it’s fun, and it could save your life.

Map and Compass Navigation Basics Classes

Don’t just rely on a cell phone, especially if you are hiking in the backcountry.

Hike Indian Truck Trail to Santiago Peak 3d map
This route to Santiago Peak takes the eastern slope up through the Cleveland National Forest. As you climb, you’ll have views east to San Jacinto.
Hike Indian Truck Trail to Santiago Peak elevation
Indian Truck Trail pretty much goes straight up. The majority of the hike is on wide dirt roads, so the gradient is usually as easy as it can get given where you’re going.

Indian Truck Trail to Santiago Peak Hike Directions

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Turn by Turn Hike Directions

Indian Truck Trail hike parking
Here’s the old parking lot.
ndian Truck Trail hike directions
Right away the trail splits. Keep left and go straight. The area on the right has trash and old sofas where teens drink beers. This is from the old parking, can’t confirm that this is the same on the new route.
Grace Korean Church Retreat
Shortly after starting you’ll see the turn-off for the Grace Korean Church Retreat. Stay right and keep hiking uphill.
ndian Truck Trail hike directions
You’ll be hiking through a residential area here, and there are some driveways. Keep straight at the junction.
ndian Truck Trail hike directions
Soon after that, the houses end and your on the trail to the summit.
ndian Truck Trail hike directions
The trail is wide and climbs steadily. You’ll start getting glimpses of the peaks in Cleveland National Forest as you climb.
ndian Truck Trail hike directions
Don’t forget to take breaks and look backwards. If it’s clear you’ll have great views of San Jacinto.
ndian Truck Trail hike directions
You’ll also get nice views of the twisty-turny Indian Truck Trail behind you.
mountain lion tracks
I spotted these big tracks on the sand. No claws, so could be a mountain lion. Anyone have any ideas?
ndian Truck Trail hike directions
The Indian Truck Trail winds it’s way up the side of the mountain.
ndian Truck Trail hike directions
At about 4.5 miles you’ll start getting glimpses of Santiago Peak. It’s the one with all the antennas on it.
ndian Truck Trail hike directions
The Indian Truck Trail steadily climbs and is always very easy to follow.
ndian Truck Trail hike directions
You’ll notice that the fauna starts to change around 5 miles in, with more pine trees. There’s also an ease in the gradient on the hike at this section.
ndian Truck Trail hike directions
At about 7 miles, you reach the end of the Indian Truck Trail. Make the right onto Main Divide Road.
ndian Truck Trail hike directions
Once you past that gate you’ll be able to see west, and on a clear day, see the Pacific Ocean.
ndian Truck Trail hike directions
Continue up Main Divide Road, which is wide like the Indian Truck Trail and has a similar feel.
ndian Truck Trail hike directions
You’ll get views of the antennas on Santiago Peak as you make your way on the hike. So close, yet so far…
ndian Truck Trail hike directions
Okay, this part is tricky. At around 8.2 miles, you’ll see the Upper Holy Jim trail to your right. It’s small and easy to miss. Hike up the Upper Holy Jim trail.
ndian Truck Trail hike directions
You’ll see this sign when you turn onto the Upper Holy Jim trail, but it’s easy to miss when you’re hiking up Main Divide Road. UPDATE: I got a report that the sign is gone, so be extra aware when you’re looking for this turnoff, it’s easy to miss.
ndian Truck Trail hike directions
The Upper Holy Jim trail condition is the opposite of the rest of the hike. It’s narrow, twisty, and turny. One of my favorites.
ndian Truck Trail hike directions
You’ll see a 5 mile post, which is the distance if you took the Lower Holy Jim trail up. I have directions for that hike too.
ndian Truck Trail hike directions
The views from the Upper Holy Jim trail are pretty awesome. You’ll see San Jacinto, I-15 and the Inland Empire below you.
ndian Truck Trail hike directions
The trail is small but easy to follow.
ndian Truck Trail hike directions
At around 9 miles you’ll see an junction with the Coldwater Trail. If you took a right here, you could theoretically head back to Corona, close to where you started. Coldwater Trail is washed out at the bottom, is very overgrown, and requires a detour through a private quarry to get back onto public streets. This hike recommends that you just go back the way you came up, avoiding this trail.
ndian Truck Trail hike directions
The end of Upper Holy Jim has some nice shady spots if you want to take a snack break.
ndian Truck Trail hike directions
The Upper Holy Jim trail dead ends back on Main Divide Road. Hike to the right.
ndian Truck Trail hike directions
Once you are back on Main Divide Road, it sweeps around and heads up. Keep hiking up. Sections are pretty steep here. Not too far from here!
ndian Truck Trail hike directions
This last part of the hike is a steep dirt road.
ndian Truck Trail hike directions
At this point on my hike the lace on my boot broke. It seems that a small pebble got wedged inside the hoop where the lace passes through, and it ground through the lace with every step. Surprisingly the boots still fit snugly and I was able to do the last 12 miles of the hike without the lace. Otherwise I would have improvised with duct tape.
ndian Truck Trail hike directions
HOLY MOLY YOU MADE IT! The last part can feel like it goes on forever.
ndian Truck Trail hike directions
There’s a sign here with some mileages. The 5 miles to Indian Truck Road is if you take Main Divide Road all the way. The Upper Holy Jim trail is a shortcut.
ndian Truck Trail hike directions
Okay, so the summit at Santiago Peak can be confusing. This satellite view will be helpful in making your way to the actual summit marker. The first arrow is at the last picture.
ndian Truck Trail hike directions
Hike right up towards the higher towers. You’ll hear the hum of electricity. It’s not the most scenic of summits. If you want a similar experience without all the development, I’d recommend Modjeska Peak, the other hump of Saddleback Mountain.
ndian Truck Trail hike directions
After the large antennas, there’s a little building with another array of antennas. Head just past it.
Indian Truck Trail hike directions
Right after the building there’s a small trail to the top of the hill. This is the summit!
Indian Truck Trail hike directions
Look down to find the USGS marker and trail register.
Indian Truck Trail hike directions
Unless it’s been stolen, there’s usually a summit sign here that you can grab some shots with. From the summit you’ll have 360 views of all of Orange and Riverside counties. On a clear day you can see from Catalina to San Gorgonio.
Indian Truck Trail hike directions
After you enjoy the summit, you just head back the way you came. It’s a long hike, so don’t forget to take breaks to eat and hydrate on the way down. 21 miles is a long, long day, and if you did this hike, you’re a tough cookie. Happy trails!

If you’re considering descending down Coldwater Canyon, which is on some topo maps, know that most of the trail disappears at some point and you end up bushwhacking. This hike guide has you going donw the same way you came up, avoiding Coldwater Canyon.

Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.