Main Divide - Middle Section to Saddleback - 3S04

Orange, California (Orange County)

Last Updated: 08/15/2020
4.7 / 5 ( 11 reviews )
Information
Nearby Trails
Status: Open
Typically Open: Year Round
Length: 4.7 miles
Highest Elevation: 5689 feet
Duration: About 1 hour
Shape of Trail: Connector
Best Direction to Travel: East
Nearest Town: Orange
Nearest Town w/ Services: Orange
Official Road Name: 3S04
Management Agency: Cleveland National Forest
District: Trabucco Ranger District
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Highlights

Highlight: Main Divide - Middle Section to Saddleback - 3S04
The keyhole to the highest point in Orange County, Main Divide Trail is known for its close proximity to Central Orange County and amazing views. The trail skirts along the side of the mountains, reaching both peaks of the famous Saddleback Mountain that separates Orange County and Riverside County. While heading up to Modjeska Peak, the trail is mostly rocky while the second half going up to Santiago Peak is mostly dirt. Santiago Peak reaches a staggering 5,689 feet above sea level, allowing for cooler weather during the summer and snow in the winter. But the nice weather and the fact that it is only minutes from the metropolitan area of Orange County is not what brings people to this area, it is the great views, the remote location, and the great off-road experience it provides.

Video

Weather

7 day forecast for Main Divide - Middle Section to Saddleback - 3S04

Route Information

Technical Rating:
( EASY )

Read more about our rating system

Waypoints

1. Mid Gate (0 mi)
This is the starting point for the trail heading up Saddleback. The trail continues down the Northwest side of the range via Main Divide to either Silverado Canyon or Corona For more information on Maple Springs / Silverado Canyon, Click Here For more information on Bedford Canyon / Corona, Click Here

Directions to Trailhead

Trailhead Coordinates: 33.728898, -117.546989

Starting Point: Silverado Canyon, CA

From Silverado Canyon, CA, take Maple Springs Road (Trail) to the end. Main Divide splits either North or South. The mid section of Main Divide which heads up Saddleback Mountain is to the South.

Camping

Dispersed

Land Use Issues

Please check with Cleveland National Forest for trail conditions. This trail closes for many reasons throughout the year and with no warning. Click Here For Current Trail Closures Trabuco Ranger District - (951) 736-1811

Trail Reviews (13)

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Easy and fun trail for any AWD and or 4WD vehicles with lots of great views. Also, this is a very busy trail especially on the weekends. Did this trail with my Suzuki AWD and 2 stock Subaru Foresters.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Trail was open and crowded. Easy, dirt road all the way up to the towers. There's a small rutted section that drops down to a spot with great views that needed 4WD but it's optional. We got up there early and spent about an hour at the peak before the crowds showed up. My favorite spot in Orange County.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Great and beautiful views from the top. 2wd drive can make easily except for the very top. Great view of the city and surrounding cities on a clear day.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
This trail is open and easy. The road is plenty wide to pass as I encountered about a dozen other vehicles including 3 tow trucks. I'm guessing somebody was practicing for the Baja because there was nothing difficult about this road.
THIS ROUTE IS CURRENTLY OUT-AND-BACK This road is open, but the gate accessing: 3S04 - Main Divide South - Santiago Peak (aka Saddleback Mountain) was locked.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
They graded Maple Springs but I think they took all the rocks and put them on this trail. Not serious but boy this trail is rough right now. I went up the mtn to check out the comet Neowise. Really cool experience and if you haven't done it yet, get up there. Only a couple days left.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
A much more rugged trail then Maple Springs Rd which took us to this trail head. Very rocky in places. Narrow sections but always a wide spot to allow other vehicles to pass. We encountered 3 other pickup trucks on this drive to Santiago Peak and a Suburban with government plates probably servicing one on communications systems at the peak. A couple of tight switchbacks but mostly smooth flowing turns. The most concerning for me were the steep sides approaching 60 degree or more slopes on 1 side of the road and without any fencing. The road was always wide enough to keep a wide margin from the edge. Along the way and especially at the top there are views out to the ocean and at times views of the Inland Empire (east). The road heading further south was indeed gated closed at the antenna farm and this was stated on the Cleveland National Forest Road and Road Closure Notices page at https://www.fs.usda.gov/detailfull/cleveland/alerts-notices/?cid=stelprdb5340229.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Such a fun trial for a new and beginner off road enthusiast. Had a blast, great views and nice to get out without having to drive so far. Took great pics, got dirty, enjoyed the cool breeze up at the top. Also stoped at Silverado Cafe on the way down. Overall a great distraction and fun one-day getaway. Will return !

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Love going up there.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Great addition to 5S04 Maple Spring Trail. Take it all the way to the top of Santiago Peak at almost 5,700 feet. You'll have amazing views from San Diego to LA on a clear day. Nothing technical on this leg of the trail either although once at the top of the peak you do have to navigate a small section where high clearance and 4 wheel will be needed. Stock 4x4's will have no problem. Keep your eyes on the trail and watch for hikers and bikers. Once you're at the top you'll be glad you went up.

Author:
Status: Temporary Closure
Offroaded on:
Rating:
The gate is in fact closed, as posted by the Cleveland National Forrest service, presumably due to recent fires. Check the site before attempting to run the trail: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detailfull/cleveland/alerts-notices/?cid=stelprdb5340229

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
What a great trip, there was a bit of Santa Ana winds, but that blew the smog out, making for some great views.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Closed
Offroaded on:
Another amazing trip on an amazing trail. Enjoyed the sunset with some great people. Can't wait to go back.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
My geocaching buddy and I hunted for BenchMarks today (surveyor disks), with less than our usual 50% success rate. I'll blame it on the heat and humidity, plus location descriptions written in 1935 with SCALED coordinates (+/- error of 600 feet). Besides this trail, we ran the Indian Truck Trail and Bedford Road for a total of 30 miles and 5 hours. 2wd capable but very rough in spots with a 10mph max speed.

Questions & Answers (1)

Q: Is there day parking at Waypoint 1? In the past, I used to drop off my truck at Cook's Corner and ride my dual sport motorcycle to the Maple Springs gate, but now that I read your trail guide, I'm wondering if you're allowed to leave a vehicle at WP 1. If not, is there any place along the trail to leave your vehicle or perhaps a spot along Maple Springs Road? Thanks!
–Marc Nitz (02/17/2021)
–Josh Noesser (02/17/2021)
–Marc Nitz (02/17/2021)

Writer Information

Josh Noesser

Mapping Crew - California

Joshua Noesser grew up in Southern California but has lived in different parts of the country during his young adult life. Josh was first turned to four wheeling when he road with one of his friends dad up Surprise Canyon in the Panamint Valley at age14. After nearly 3 different roll overs later and a half dozen intense waterfalls, Josh was hooked. At 16 he purchased his first Jeep a CJ 7 and by 17 was putting his first locker in it. Currently, Josh is the owner and CEO of Nybble, an IT Solutions Company based in Orange County, California. Nybble isn't your normal IT company where everyone stays in and plays video games. Nybble's average company trip is out on the trails since a good amount of his staff enjoy wheeling too. As Josh likes to say, he offers the only IT Company with the ability to provide services in extreme locations. "If you want a server at the top of The Hammers, we will take care of that for you." Today you can find Josh out on the trail behind the wheel in one of his three different off-road vehicles. See the vehicles below for more information. If you ever run into Josh, please say high, he is a very friendly person and is always happy to have a new person join the group.
For individual use only, not to be shared.