Orange County Highpoint Trip Report

Date: March 9, 2007
Author: Roy Wallen

I repeated this highpoint for my companion Ron Tagliapietra.

Previously ascents of this highpoint have taken me up the Indian Truck Trail (from the northeast) and Silverado Canyon Road (from the northwest). These are both recommended with high-clearance, 4WD. The third road access is from the southeast and, we discovered on this day, can be driven in a passenger car (front wheel drive Toyota Matrix). However, the drive is not for the faint of heart and should be avoided if you have strong feelings about scratches on car paint.

From the intersection of I-5 and the Ortega Highway (SR 74) in San Juan Capistrano, proceed east. Currently, the road is under construction. It is closed at night and a section is limited to one lane during the day. This is expected to continue until 2010.

Twenty-two miles on the Ortega Highway from I-5, there is a large, wooden sign for a couple of camps with "39251 Ortega Highway" at the bottom. This point can also be accessed from I-15 in Lake Elsinore, to the east.

Turn north on a paved road and proceed 3.4 miles to a large gravel area on the left. A sharp left turn will take you through an open gate onto the Main Divide Truck Trail. This road is variously sandy, rocky, and smooth as you drive the 11.9 miles to the summit. There are various places to turn off the main road but if you follow the main road, you will arrive at the summit in about an hour, depending on how fast you want to drive on this narrow road with steep drop-offs. The Indian truck Trail comes in on the right as a sign on the right, a benchmark (2787) on the left, and an open gate straight ahead. The Holy Jim Trail, where most hikers ascend, is 3 miles short of the summit and is marked by a sign, benchmark (3,965 ft), and cement block water tank.

Once at the summit, intermittently visible along the road, you are confronted by many very large antennas and support buildings. Walk to the highest ground and find the benchmark in the middle of a set of footings that are no longer in use. Views through the array of towers are possible to the ocean and islands (though the fog prohibited that on our visit), the development in the valleys (though the smog prohibited that), and the highpoints of Riverside, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles counties.

We returned the way we came.