Hike Indian Truck Trail to Santiago Peak

Hike Indian Truck Trail to Santiago Peak

In This Guide
  • How to Get to the Indian Truck Trail
  • Indian Truck Trail Maps
  • Turn by Turn Hike Directions
  • What You Need To Do the Hike
Distance21 miles (33.8 km)
Time10-12 Hours (Total Time)
DifficultyHard
Total Climbing6,860 feet (2091m)
Highest Elevation5,689 feet (1734m)
Dog FriendlyOff Leash Okay
Park NameCleveland 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.

It’s a long hike, so be prepared. Here’s what I would bring:

See All The Gear I Use

Everything on my gear list is battle tested on the trails, and should work well for you too.

Indian Truck Trail to Santiago Peak Trail Maps

Fenix 5x Hiking Review

I highly recommend bringing a good paper map with you, and then using it in conjunction with a GPS device. You can see the navigation gear that I use here (I’m currently using the Fenix 5x Plus and love it). Just download the GPX file below and load it onto your GPS.

Many people also print out this web page for the turn-by-turn images. And if you really want to get tricky, YouTube Premium lets you download videos for offline use, so you can download the hike video and save it.

Download the Hike GPX File

View a Printable PDF Hike Map

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.

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