- Home - Hiking Trails - LA Mountain Hikes Hike Indian Truck Trail to Santiago Peak
The Indian Truck Trail offers an alternate way to hike Santiago Peak (Saddleback Mountain). The Indian Truck Trail is long, not too technical, and a great training hike for Mt Whitney.
21 miles (33.8 km)
5670 ft (1728 m)
Distance, climbing, heat
Any time weather permitting
Indian Truck Trail Hike Trail Maps
Use this address in Google Maps to get to the trailhead:
11472 Kingbird Drive, Corona, CA, 92883, USA
The trailhead is on the eastern side of Cleveland National Forest. It's about 70 minutes from downtown LA, 45 minutes from Irvine, and 30 minutes north of Temecula.
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.
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.
Interactive Map Indian Truck Trail Hike Map Downloads Gear for the Indian Truck Trail Hike The best hydration daypack out there. The CamelBak Fourteener has been perfect on hikes of all distances (including Mt Whitney and Cactus to Clouds). It's light, has plenty of room for super-food snacks, extra layers, hiking gear, and comes with a 3 liter water bladder. I also like the raised sweat pads on the back that keep your back dry. It's the perfect blend of high-tech, durability, and simplicity. I've got hundreds of hours on it and still love it. CamelBak Fourteener Reviews My favorite hiking boot of all time. The La Sportiva Synthesis (for men and women) are waterproof, super-light, have incredible grip, and won a Backpacker Magazine Editor's Choice Award ( my review here). I've gone through a lot of boots and these are my favorite. They feel like comfortable sneakers with the protection of hiking boots. La Sportiva Hiking Boot Reviews Don't hike without this in your backpack. It's a GPS emergency beacon and can save your life ( more on that here). On the trail, you're often out of cell phone range, and even something as simple as a twisted ankle could become a life and death situation. This beacon works where cell phones don't and is the size of a fist. Just press a button and help is on the way. Your life is worth every penny. ACR GPS Beacon Reviews For my complete gear list and survival kit contents, check out my post on the modern hiking essentials here. I'd also recommend taking a quick look at the Every day they mark down great quality hiking gear, fitness gear, and clothing. Pick up an inexpensive lifetime REI Outlet site. REI Membership for an extra 10% off. Indian Truck Trail Hike Video Indian Truck Trail Hike Directions What to Expect on the Hike The trail is wide and open to mountain bikes, dirt bikes, and 4×4 vehicles, so keep your eyes open. It’s not busy like a normal road, and you’ll probably only see a handful of vehicles (Indian Truck Trail is also known as forest road 5S01). It’s a beautiful hike, so don’t let this stop you. 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. Most people hike to Santiago Peak from the Lower Holy Jim trail on the other side of the mountain. It’s a more traditional hike and not as long. If you’ve done that one already, this is another fun option with different scenery. 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. If you’re training for the Mt Whitney hike, this is a good training option. It’s roughly the same distance and almost has as much climbing. It’s 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. Parking Update
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. Turn by Turn Hike Directions Here’s the old parking lot. 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. Shortly after starting you’ll see the turn-off for the Grace Korean Church Retreat. Stay right and keep hiking uphill. You’ll be hiking through a residential area here, and there are some driveways. Keep straight at the junction. Soon after that, the houses end and your on the trail to the summit. The trail is wide and climbs steadily. You’ll start getting glimpses of the peaks in Cleveland National Forest as you climb. Don’t forget to take breaks and look backwards. If it’s clear you’ll have great views of San Jacinto. You’ll also get nice views of the twisty-turny Indian Truck Trail behind you. I spotted these big tracks on the sand. No claws, so could be a mountain lion. Anyone have any ideas? The Indian Truck Trail winds it’s way up the side of the mountain. At about 4.5 miles you’ll start getting glimpses of Santiago Peak. It’s the one with all the antennas on it. The Indian Truck Trail steadily climbs and is always very easy to follow. 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. At about 7 miles, you reach the end of the Indian Truck Trail. Make the right onto Main Divide Road. Once you past that gate you’ll be able to see west, and on a clear day, see the Pacific Ocean. Continue up Main Divide Road, which is wide like the Indian Truck Trail and has a similar feel. You’ll get views of the antennas on Santiago Peak as you make your way on the hike. So close, yet so far… 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. 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. 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. 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. The views from the Upper Holy Jim trail are pretty awesome. You’ll see San Jacinto, I-15 and the Inland Empire below you. The trail is small but easy to follow. 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. The end of Upper Holy Jim has some nice shady spots if you want to take a snack break. The Upper Holy Jim trail dead ends back on Main Divide Road. Hike to the right. 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! This last part of the hike is a steep dirt road. 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. HOLY MOLY YOU MADE IT! The last part can feel like it goes on forever. 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. 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. 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. After the large antennas, there’s a little building with another array of antennas. Head just past it. Right after the building there’s a small trail to the top of the hill. This is the summit! Look down to find the USGS marker and trail register. 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. 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! An easy way to give back is to simply pick up any trash you see on the trail. 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.
Hiking Saddleback Mountain takes you to the highest point in Orange County, Santiago Peak. It’s also the highest point in the Santa Ana mountains. This hike takes the scenic Holy Jim Trail, which is also the shortest route to the summit.
The Modjeska Peak hike is challenging – long, steep, and sometimes primitive. The hike climbs to the second highest point in Orange County, Modjeska Peak. The actual summit is undeveloped and much nicer than nearby Santiago Peak.
The 10 hiking essentials are the recommended key survival tools that hikers should bring with them on every hike. The original 10 essentials date back the 1930s. Here’s my take on the modern hiking essentials and how to use them.
I’m Hiking Guy, aka Cris Hazzard. I like to get outdoors, walk, and then write about it. It wasn’t always like that though.
Browse more articles on: LA Mountain Hikes, Orange County Hiking