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Maple Springs Road is the backdoor to Saddleback Mountain from Orange County. One of Orange County's few trails, this is a popular overland route for people wanting to get out of the house and stay local. Others say they enjoy this road because it leads to the best view of Orange County. If you are fortunate to have a few hours around sunset, the view from the top of Saddleback Mountain has been known for photographs of the sun setting over Catalina Island out in the Pacific Ocean with Orange County in the foreground.
The lower section of the trail has a unique scenery for Orange County. The area is covered in oaks and pines. A nearby creek runs most of the year. It's a great place for a picnic and if you are lucky you can find yourself a swimming hole.
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Maple Springs Road begins where Silverado Canyon Road ends. This mountain trail is mostly a dirt road with a couple of water crossings and several very tight hairpin corners. The risk of pin stripping is mainly along the lower section of the pavement. The bushes get overgrown during the winter as the gate is often closed for long periods of time. Passing is the other time pin stripping can be an issue as the trail is only one vehicle wide. So making space to pass means both people have to pull off the side of the trail.
The trail is suitable for all types of high-ground clearance vehicles, meaning you will likely see a lot of traffic and a lot of unique things along this route.
The parking lot at the fire station at the bottom of the trail is a popular spot to air down.
Pass through the gate. The gate may be locked because of road conditions.
On the other side of the gate is an open area along the trail for a large group to air down under the ample shade provided by the oak trees. The oaks are native to this area. As recently as the 80s, this entire canyon was one large oak grove forest. Due to the fires started mostly by humans, we are only left with these small patches of trees.
One delight of the Maples Springs trail is that it often crisscrosses Silverado Creek. This is the first crossing and one of the more beautiful ones. It is rare that the water is more than 4 to 6 inches deep, but after storms, it has been as deep as a few feet.
7W05 is a hiking trail that takes you toward Beaks Place on Main Divide. This is a challenging hike. The trail was once an alternate motorway up the mountain.
There is plenty of parking in this area if you want to hike the trail or use this spot as an alternate area to air down.
Don't forget to display your adventure pass if you plan on parking in this area. If you need to get one, the general store at the entrance of Silverado Canyon can often sell them.
Beautiful scenic views and sounds of a babbling brook and small waterfalls are a welcome part of the trail experience.
The second creek crossing has a pull-out large enough for 5 to 6 vehicles. The pull-out is before the creek crossing.
The trail winds back and forth over Silverado Creek.
This large pull-out used to be covered by one of the oldest oak trees in the area. Unfortunately, the tree fell over. There's plenty of space to park and enjoy the area. Take a short hike down to the creek, as there are often swimming holes in this area.
Not all creek crossings are created equal. This one has some great views down stream.
Once a long gravel bed, this was replaced with cement in the mid-2000s to help stop the insane amount of people who got stuck at this crossing.
This creek crossing is often more overgrown then the others.
If you are counting, this is the seventh creek crossing. There's only one more to go.
This is the final creek crossing of the trail. This spot often doesn't have water running through the canyon. It's certainly beautiful when it does, usually in late winter.
The trail transitions to dirt from asphalt. This area is known for its ladybug migration and tarantula run. You can contact the rangers office to find out when this is expected.
As the trail enters the mountains there are many tight switchbacks. Too much speed when traveling down the trail is dangerous, so keep a sharp eye out. This switchback has a stunning view down the canyon.
This spot also intersects with the hiking trail that travels straight up the hillside, which used to be an off-road trail.
Usually, the trail is rutted here from running water and spinning tires.
More views of the pines and oaks along the route. Don't forget to check out the dry waterfall or the stunning views off in the distance.
This might be the largest pull-out along the trail. Often large groups stop here to hang out and enjoy a meal.
The one spot people have the most issues with, Deadman's Corner, is a very tight switchback that has a spring running across it. Coupled with this being on a steeper section of the trail, people often carry too much speed into it and don't make the corner. It is common if you look over the side to see at least one vehicle down there.
Note: There appears to be a trail continuing straight through the corner. This is not a trail, and it ends just feet ahead. This spot is good for 1 or 2 vehicles to stop and enjoy the area's shade or hike down to the crippled vehicles below.
This switchback once had an area to test out your vehicle. The forest service has closed the area. But higher up the trail are plenty of open areas for a group to stop and take a break.
The trail is full of spectacular views. Don't forget to take in the scenery of this epic trail.
This spot often has runoff from Maple Spring creating a minor washout.
This spot used to be a recognized campsite. Now it is just an open area for people to hang out.
One of the many switchbacks on this route that people should be aware of.
The hardest optional obstacle on the trail, this hill climb has large holes from spinning wheels. The hill is a 25-40 degree climb but has massive holes that could easily swallow a 31-inch tire. Articulation is a must, or lockers will be needed.
The Play Area was once a trail intersection. The play area has a dozen or so hill climbs. The climbs range from 4 to 10 feet, allowing people to test out their suspension. On top is a large flat area that could easily host a group of over 20 vehicles. This is often a popular place for people to stop and hang out.
This is the upper gate to the trail at Main Divide. Off to the southeast is Harding Truck Trail, closed by the forest service in the 90s.
The trail ens where Maple Springs Road connects with Main Divide Road. A right takes you to the top of Saddleback. A left takes you to Bedford Road, Beaks Place, and Corona.
There is no dispersed camping along this trail.
There are many campgrounds in the area, such as O'Neill Park in Trabuco Canyon or Canyon RV Park near the 91 Freeway.
Take Silverado Canyon Road east all the way to the end.
Please check with Cleveland National Forest for trail conditions. This trail closes for many reasons throughout the year.
Trabuco Ranger District - (951) 736-1811
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