Modjeska Peak Hike
|Distance||15 miles (24.2 km)|
|Time||8 Hours (Total Time)|
|Total Climbing||5,160 feet (1573m)|
|Highest Elevation||5,499 feet (1676m)|
|Dog Friendly||Off Leash Okay|
|Park Name||Cleveland National Forest|
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. Here’s what I bring:
- Good hiking boots
- Trekking poles
- Daypack with 4.5-6L of water, it can get 100F+ in the summer
- Extra Layers
- Insect Repellant (in the summer they can be intense)
- Emergency gear to spend the night
- An emergency beacon
My Top Gear Picks
Do you have the right hiking gear? Will it stand up to the test? I waste lots of money testing hiking gear every year so that you don’t have to. My gear picks are solid choices that will serve you well on the trail. I don’t do sponsored or paid reviews, I just the share actual gear that I use all the time that’s made the cut. Here are my top picks:
- Garmin InReach Mini Emergency Beacon – Hiking out of cell phone range? Make sure you have one of these two-way satellite texting devices in case your hike doesn’t go as planned. You can read my full review here.
- Injinji Sock Liners With Darn Tough Hiking Socks – This combo is a great way to avoid blisters out on the trail. I have some insider-hiking tips for avoiding blisters here. Pair them with modern, high-tech hiking boots (for women and men) and your feet with thank you.
- Garmin Fenix 5x Plus – It’s a little pricey, but man do I love this thing. Not only does it have all the topo maps and navigation tools on my wrist, but it also acts as a long battery life, rugged, outdoors version of an Apple Watch. Track your workouts, sleep, heart rate, all that stuff.
I have lots of other great, sponsor-free, trail tested gear picks on my “best gear” page.
See My Full Gear List
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.
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.
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
Modjeska Peak Hike Directions
Was This Guide Helpful?
It’s easy to help support this site (which I use to offset website hosting costs, etc.). Simply click on a link below to buy anything from REI or Amazon. I get a small percentage and you don’t pay anything extra.
Support With REI
Support With Amazon
You can also make a donation if you’d like, but please don’t feel obligated to do so.
The content on this site will always be free for everyone to enjoy.
And you can help other hikers as well. If you do this hike and something has changed, snap a few photos and send me the details. I’ll update the guide so that others can do the hike safely.
You May Also Enjoy
Orange County Hiking