Hike Santiago Peak & Modjeska Peak From Maple Springs
|In This Guide|
|Total Distance (?)||16 miles (25.8 km)|
|Other Options||8 miles from dirt parking lot|
|Hike Time||7-9 Hours (Total)|
|Total Ascent (?)||3,500 feet (1067m)|
|Highest Elevation||5,689 feet (1734m)|
|Fees & Permits||Free|
|Alerts & Closures (?)||Cleveland National Forest|
|Weather & Forecast||Latest Conditions|
|Stay Safe||Copy this webpage link to the clipobard and share with a friend before you hike. Let them know when to expect you back.|
If you want to bag both peaks of Saddleback Mountain, Modjeska and Santiago, the route from Maple Springs is a great option. In this guide I’ll show you how to park at the end of the paved road and then hike through the heart of the Santa Anas to the summits. The first few miles of the hike are on a dirt road, but then we’ll switch onto rugged singletrack. There’s a lot of confusion around hiking this route, and this guide should clear it all up and make it easy.
Where is Maple Springs Trailhead?
If you’ve looked at other guides, there are usually multiple starting points listed for Maple Springs or Silverado Canyon. I’m going to start this guide at the spot you can safely get to with a low-clearance 2WD vehicle in all conditions. You drive to the end of the paved road and then start hiking.
Start by driving to the Maple Springs Trailhead / Visitor Center in Silverado. Use this address in your driving GPS:
Maple Springs Visitor Center, 31332 Silverado Canyon Rd, Silverado, CA 92676
The point we’re ultimately going to is where the pavement ends, which can be found here: 33.745171, -117.544064.
If you have a high(er) clearance vehicle and want to cut some mileage off the hike, you can drive about 4.5 miles past this point to a large parking area (informally) known as Four Corners. The condition of the road varies over time. I believe fire crews keep the road passable; otherwise, it’s not graded or maintained. I’ve seen Subarus do the road, and I’m sure other 2WD have tackled it as well. But if you want to play it safe, park at the end of the pavement.
Gear For the Hike
- This long hike is mainly exposed and offers no water along the way. Bring at least 3L of water.
- If you’re unfamiliar with the Santa Ana’s, they can get very hot, sometimes into the 100Fs. The hike is best done when temps are cooler.
- The singletrack portions of this hike can be slightly overgrown. Having long pants and sleeves can save you from some abrasion.
Garmin InReach Mini 2
I’m a firm believer in carrying a satellite communications device which works where cell phones don’t. I use a Garmin InReach which lets me send text messages back and forth to my family to let them know that I’m okay or if my plans change when I’m out in the backcountry. It also has an SOS subscription built-in so that you can reach first-responders in an emergency. The devices also offer weather reports, GPS, and navigation functionality (what’s the difference between a GPS and satellite communicator?). For a few hundred bucks they could save your life, so for me it’s a no brainer to have something like a Garmin InReach. If you use a smartphone to navigate and want a more affordable option that integrates with your phone easily, check out the ZOLEO.
Latest Prices: Amazon | REI
Altra Lone Peak 6
For most people, the Altra Lone Peak is a solid choice that will leave your feet feeling great at the end of any hike. The feel is cushy and light, and if it had a car equivalent, this would be a Cadillac or Mercedes Sedan. The grip is great and they’re reasonably durable for this type of trail runner, which I think is better in most conditions than a hiking boot, and here’s why. The downside of this shoe is that it won’t last as long as something like the Terraventure 3 or Moab 2 (see alternate footwear choices at the bottom of my gear page). I’ve been using mine for many miles and my feet always feel great. I have a video on the details of the Altra Lone Peak 6 here.
Women’s Latest Prices: REI | Amazon
Men’s Latest Prices: REI | Amazon
Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Poles
I’ve gone back and forth on trekking poles, but I think for most people they are a good investment. They help you dig in on the uphills, provide stability on loose downhills, act as a brace when crossing streams, and can probably poke away aggressive wildlife in a pinch. The Trail Ergo Cork poles are a good balance of light weight, durability, affordability, and ease of use. If you want something ultralight and a little more pricey, I’ve had great luck with the Black Diamond Z Poles too.
Trail Ergo Poles: REI | Amazon
Z-Poles: REI | Amazon
Gregory Zulu 30 & Jade 28
After testing quite a few backpacks, the Gregory Zulu 30 (and Jade 28 for women) is, for most hikers, the best all-season day-pack. First off, it’s very comfortable, and the mesh “trampoline” back keeps your back dry. Its 30L capacity is enough for all the essentials and plenty of layers for winter hiking. External pockets make it easy to grab gear. It’s hard to find something wrong with the pack; if anything, it could be a bit lighter, but overall, it’s not heavy. And its price-point makes it not only affordable but generally a great value.
Women’s Latest Prices: REI | Amazon
Men’s Latest Prices: REI | Amazon
Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend, updated June 2022.
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 a link and buy gear, I get a small commission that helps keep the website ad and promotion free. There is no cost to you.
Maple Springs to Saddleback Trail Maps
Explore Map on CalTopoView a Printable PDF Hike MapDownload the Hike GPX File
If you try to download the GPX file and your browser adds a “.txt” or “.xml” extension to it, simply rename it as a “.gpx” file.
How Are You Going to Navigate This Hike?
Here’s what I use. If you are a hardcore hiker and/or hike in extreme conditions, I recommend getting a dedicated GPS like a GPSMAP 66sr or 66i, or a wrist-based GPS with maps like the Garmin Fenix 7 or Epix. If you only hike in fair weather and a touchscreen is fine, or just want a solid tool, I highly recommend downloading the smartphone app, Gaia GPS. It’s a piece of cake to use and very powerful, just make sure your phone is in airplane mode so the battery doesn’t drain. You can also check for wildfires, weather, snow, and choose from dozens of map types with a premium membership (HikingGuy readers get a big discount here). Note that I also carry a paper map with me in case the phone dies or gets smashed.
Maple Springs to Saddleback Hike Directions
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Turn by Turn Directions
You will be sharing the road with vehicles. Usually I’ll see a few 4×4 and motocross bikes. Sometimes more, sometimes none. You’ll generally hear them coming before they reach you. Do the smart thing and move to the side to let them pass.
If you choose to drive up Maple Springs Road on the dirt road, the parking is here on the right.
This peak is named after Helena Modjeska, who lived in Santiago Canyon. Previously it was known as the “North Peak” of “Old Saddleback.”
What’s up with all the towers up here? The first one went up in 1946, and today there are 20. Over the years the antennas have served different uses, from private industry to Air Force communications. Today most serve as cellular data links between Southern California. Private users pay leasing fees to the US Forest Service to use this land.
Does the last photo’s building look a little like a fire tower structure? The first fire tower on Santiago Peak was built in 1914, and the structure in front of you was the last iteration of a tower, built in 1951. Since then the fire tower watch area has been replaced with radio antennas, but the structure dates to that 1951 tower.
This guide last updated on June 18, 2022. Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.