Modjeska Peak Hike
|In This Guide|
|Distance||15 miles (24.2 km)|
|Hike Time||8 Hours (Total)|
|Total Ascent (?)||4,820 feet (1469m)|
|Highest Elevation||5,499 feet (1676m)|
|Fees & Permits||Parking Fee|
|Park Website||Cleveland National Forest|
|Stay In Touch||Newsletter - Instagram - YouTube - Facebook|
The Modjeska Peak hike is challenging – long, steep, and sometimes primitive. The hike climbs to the second highest point in Orange County, Modjeska Peak. Modjeska Peak, at 5,499 feet, is the lower peak in Saddleback Mountain. The highest peak (and other peak in Saddleback Mountain) is Santiago Peak. The actual summit is undeveloped and much nicer than nearby Santiago Peak. This is a challenging hike. Don’t try this hike without a good level of fitness.
Oh, and Modjeska Peak was named after the famous Shakespearian actor, Helena Modjeska. She emigrated from Poland, won acclaim in the USA, and eventually passed in Newport Beach in 1909.
Getting to Modjeska Peak
The trailhead and parking is a little tricky, there’s not a clean Google Maps address.
Use this address in your GPS: 31647-31741 Trabuco Creek Rd, Trabuco Canyon, CA 92679.
Here’s the actual latitude and longitude link. You are going to park at the junction on Trabuco Creek Road.
There are some small parking areas along the side of the road here. It’s not a popular trailhead, and I’ve never seen it full.
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.
Gear for the Hike
This is a long, tough, backcountry hike. You should bring at least 3L of water, more if it’s hot out. This hike has shady sections but can get very hot in the summer. I would also bring insect repellant, bugs can be intense in the summer months.
If you want to camp, 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.
I try a lot of hiking boots and shoes, and there are some great options out there, but the La Sportiva Spire is the best combination of comfort, protection, low-weight, and durability. They are waterproof, and the high cuff keeps debris out without the need for a gaiter. Time tested over thousands of miles. Use them with a two-layer sock system to end blisters for good.
Reviews & Lowest Prices: Women – Men
On a medium or longer hike I recommend a pack like the Osprey Talon 33 (men) or Osprey Sirrus 36 (women) which is a little bit larger. These packs are on the upper end of the (35L) daypack range, but they only weigh a small fraction more than a pack with less capacity. Having the extra space gives you more flexibility and means you don’t have to jam things in there. I use the space for things like extra layers in the winter, extra water on desert hikes, and even a tent & sleeping bag on overnights.
If you’re not familiar with the Garmin InReach technology, it allows you to send and receive text messages where you don’t have cell phone signals. You can also get weather reports and trigger an SOS to emergency responders. Even if you don’t have an emergency, sending a quick message telling a loved one that you’re okay or are running late is well worth the cost. The Mini fits in your palm and weighs next to nothing. Read my review and see the lowest prices and reviews at REI.
I’m a big fan of GPS watches (which I also use as a sleep, wellness, and fitness tracker) and my current watch is the Fenix 6 Pro Solar. I load my GPX tracks onto the watch to make sure I’m in the right place, and if not, the onboard topo maps allow me to navigate on the fly. It’s pricey but it has a great battery, accurate GPS, and tons of functionality. If you want something similar without the maps and big price tag, check out the Garmin Instinct which is a great buy and does a lot of the same things.
Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend.See All of My Best Gear Picks Here
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 offset website expenses. There is no cost to you.
Modjeska Peak Trail Maps
- 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.
- There are more mountain bikers than hikers on the Modjeska Peak hike. Give them a wide berth, the trail is narrow.
Modjeska Peak Hike Map Downloads
Download the Hike GPX File
View a Printable PDF Hike Map
Modjeska Peak Hike Directions
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