Holy Jim Falls Trail

#1 of 115 trails in Cleveland National Forest

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Holy Jim Falls Trail is a 2.8 mile round trip located near Trabuco Canyon, California that features a waterfall and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, mountain biking & walking and is accessible year-round. (Drive out Trabuco Creek Road to get to trailhead.)

This may be Orange County's most popular family hike despite the washboarded road leading to it.

Nature was profaned here by the swear words flooding from the mouth of "Cussin' Jim" Smith or "Holy Jim" as he was renamed by tightlaced government surveyors who mapped the canyon in the early 1900s. Another bit of history marks the place: the last wild California Grizzly -- an old bear named "the honey thief" -- was killed at the mouth of Trabuco Canyon after robbing beehives here in 1907.

Heavy winter rains are essential to a pleasant journey. Along the way, you will see many small cascades and cross the stream several times before you reach the split where the main trail ascends to the Main Divide Road to the left and the trail to the waterfall shoots off to the right. Watch for poison oak as you scramble over the last quarter of a mile to the twenty foot falls. This may not sound like much, but I assure you: Holy Jim Falls is a chapel in the brush.

The road journey is half the adventure. The road to the falls parking lot has potholes that eat trail bikes and washboarding that will make you sing like a jaw harp. Please go no faster than 20 mph: flying rocks from your tires can seriously harm others.

From Interstate 5, get off at El Toro Road. Head north on El Toro to the point where the road forks at Cook's Corner. Take the right fork (Live Oak Canyon Road) past O'Neill Park. A quarter mile past Trabuco School, you will pass over Trabuco Creek. Turn left onto the dirt road. Some people park here and hike in: this adds 4.45 miles and 840 feet to your hike. Most continue on the road for another 4.45 miles and park in the Holy Jim lot. Though washboarded in parts, the road is usually passable for most passenger cars. The trail ascends the canyon on the left side of the parking lot.

Trail guides are available from the Traubo Ranger District or at the trailhead.

California Travel and Tourism Commission
P.O. Box 1499
Sacramento, CA, 95812-1499
Phone: 800-862-2543

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5 Completed 1 Reviews

Went there yesterday. No river water, fall was a trinkle and the tree tunnel I really wanted to see has been half way cut down so it doesn't look like a tunnel at all. Still a good trail though. Good scenery. Very nice and shaded all the way. Make sure you use/take bug spray. Tons of flies/nats/bugs.
Can't wait to go back in the spring :)

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5 Completed 5 Reviews

I suggest not to drive your car past the "conditioned" dirt road unless you have all wheel drive or a truck or SUV.

Little to no water at this time of the year. The flies were terrible while walking to the main trail. Beautiful scenery and an easy walk for all ages.

I will be back in November during the lady bug migration.

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5 Completed 5 Reviews

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4 Completed 5 Reviews

I took my 9 + 12 year old sons. They loved it. I loved the scenic walk and would do it over and over again for the scenery. Beautiful scenes to view there, however, the waterfall is a trickle now due to lack of rainfall. Dam drought! However, I am anxious to see it after a few good rains. It is a perfect walk for the whole family. Lots of shade and no real challenges.

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8 Completed 2 Reviews

Nice falls

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5 Completed 1 Reviews

I have done this hike several times. It is a nice easy hike. The trail can become crowded on a nice weekend. Start out early to miss the masses!

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Brad Stemm

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1 Completed 1 Reviews

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1 Completed 1 Reviews

This was a great beginning hike. It was my first time hiking with my 7 month old daughter in a carrier and it was perfect due to lots of shade, not too strenuous and not too long. It's a nice shady walk, waterfall is not impressive. The drive is very bumpy so come out in a truck if possible!

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2 Completed 2 Reviews

Trail is easy enough, but the falls aren't as impressive as other trails (i.e. Angeles). This is a trail we did just before hiking to the summit of Santiago. Good for a quick photo

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18 Completed 18 Reviews

Simple trail, nice scenery, long bumpy dirt road to get there. All in all, this is a pretty place with multiple mini water crossings. Look close for California newts in the pools of water on your way to the falls. The falls itself was small but pretty. Overall it is a worthwhile hike, but better for trail running as its super mellow. Shaded most of the time so dress warm on chilly days.

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