Holy Jim Falls Trail

Trabuco Canyon, CA
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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 Commision, P.O. Box 1499 , Sacramento, CA, 95812-1499, Phone: 800-862-2543

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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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2 Completed 2 Reviews

This is a very pretty hike! Great for taking lots of pictures. The downfalls were not only getting there, but the young crowd hanging around there.. Upon arriving we had to drive two girls back to their car because someone smashed their window and stole their stuff. Not too mention, that road that takes you there is long and bumpy and not easy to get in and out of there. This doesn't make my friend and I feel safe. When we got to the trail entrance, there was just a bunch of young people sitting in their cars drinking and getting stoned. Again, doesn't make me feel to good leaving the car behind. So put your belongings in your trunk and set your alarms people! The hike to the falls isn't very long though.. Nonetheless still a great hike with pretty views(:

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6 Completed 5 Reviews

Very well maintained and popular trail. Good nature viewing. Large groups of day hikers from church groups, etc. Not a lot of trash is left. Lots of unpaved driving to get to the trail head, which is probably annoying to most people.

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28 Completed 19 Reviews

Went here yesterday (3/11/14). The hardest part was driving in. A mile or so after you turn on to the dirt road by Rose Canyon Road it becomes incredibly bumpy. I was fine in my jeep, but I imagine some people that aren't used to roads like this would have trouble. Although, I did see a few cars at the trailhead. Furthermore, I didn't know that there were a bunch of cabins on the hike. I don't know how "hidden" this place really is. From the closer of the two traliheads it is a very short hike, and not much incline. You can extend the hike by parking at the entrance to the Cleveland National Park sign, but then you are just walking on the dirt road (this may be a better option for inexperienced cars and drivers). The falls are small, maybe about twenty feet or so and weren't flowing too hard when I was there, but it was a pretty little scene. I would recommend this hike for beginners and also for people that are planning on doing more than one hike in the area. Ortega HWY is only 20 mins away and is full of other hikes to do (short and long).

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9 Completed 1 Reviews

Awesome hiking spot! It truly is a hidden gem of Orange County. The terrain is supposedly "moderate to strenuous" but if you are regularly active, it is an easy track. It is not a long trek, but it's so beautiful. There are quite a few areas where you jump rocks across the stream and where you have to navigate your way through trees, but I felt that is what made this area so fun and unique. I would definitely recommend going here!

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1 Completed 1 Reviews

Beautiful hidden gym located right in the mountains of Orange County. Make sure you have a car that can drive up it because it gets really bumpy! As always, make sure to keep it clean and be respectful.

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2 Completed 2 Reviews

Very peaceful trail, I'd say the actual trail from start to finish is easy to moderate. You can drive up to the trail head and park, or park down at the bottom by the road and walk up. If you don't have an SUV I'd recommend walking up, the path up to the trail head gets bumpy and without 4wd could be a problem. It's about 5 miles up mostly flat and partially shaded half the time. To the falls and back it's about 15 miles from the bottom. Not too bad, but lengthy; took us around 5 hours. In the wet season the creek is beautiful though, would definitely recommend.

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8 Completed 7 Reviews

Love this hike. Fortunately I have a lifted truck although many small vehicles make it fine. I only have gone to the waterfall and need to go a few more miles to the peak!

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1 Completed 1 Reviews

Trail is good and easy. Some route near the fall is slippery so be careful with kids. Parking lot is 3 miles from the fall but road to the parking lot is horrible off road. I parked my car 2 miles away from the parking lot because I was wondering there is a parking lot. That's why it was terribly hard walking with kids. I recommend to park the car near the trail if you don't want snorting the dust.

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