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 Modjeska Peak Hike is about 45 minutes east of Newport Beach / John Wayne Airport, and about 60 minutes south of Annehiim. The last mile or two to the trailhead is a dirt road. There are some supermarkets and a general store a few miles away from the trailhead for supplies.
There's a ton of climbing as you basically go straight up to one of the tallest peaks in the Santa Ana mountains.
The hike to Modjeska Peak is generally very steep. There's a short downhill section in the middle where you can catch your breath. Be careful on the downhill return. The steepness is extreme at parts. I strongly advise using hiking poles.
Modjeska Peak is the second highest peak in Orange County at 5,499 feet, and is the lower peak in Saddleback Mountain. The highest peak (and other peak in Saddleback Mountain) is Santiago Peak.
This is a challenging hike. Don’t try this hike without a good level of fitness.
There are more mountain bikers than hikers on the Modjeska Peak hike. Give them a wide berth, the trail is narrow.
There can be bugs on this hike, and they’re annoying, especially when you’re grinding uphill. Bring some natural insect repellant to deal.
There’s a fire pit on the summit of Modjeska Peak, a nice clearing, and great views. It’s obvious that people have done some backcountry camping here.
Most maps have an incorrect path for the Joplin Truck Trail, the main trail for this hike. The GPX file in this hike has the correct route.
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
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.