The Hike to Holy Jim Falls is One of the Most Interesting and Scenic in the Santa Ana Mountains!

The hike to Holy Jim Falls, in Holy Jim Canyon, crosses Holy Jim Creek many times, and passes under a multitude of trees before eventually reaching the popular picnic spot, a twenty foot cascade and falls.

Despite the rough road leading to it, this may be Orange County's most popular family hike!

Orange County California
Orange County California, Holy Jim Falls

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, nature heard profanity here.

After robbing beehives here in 1907, the last wild California Grizzly, an old bear named the honey thief, was killed at the mouth of Trabuco Canyon. This is just another bit of history that marks the place.

Trabuco Canyon
Trabuco Canyon, Holy Jim Falls

Essential to a pleasant journey are heavy winter rains. Before you reach the split where the trail to the waterfall shoots off to the right and where the main trail ascends to the Main Divide Road to the left, you will cross the stream several times and see many small cascades.

As you scramble over the last quarter of a mile to the twenty foot falls, watch for poison oak. Holy Jim Falls is a chapel in the brush!

Holy Jim Falls
Holy Jim Falls

Hiking the Trail

Half the adventure is the road journey. Washboarding that will make you sing like a jaw harp and potholes that eat trail bikes, the road to the falls parking area has these. Flying rocks from your tires can seriously harm others, so please go no faster than twenty mph.

Get off at El Toro Road, from Interstate 5. To the point where the road forks at Cook's Corner, head north on El Toro. Take the right fork (Live Oak Canyon Road) past O'Neill Park. You will pass over Trabuco Creek, a quarter mile past Trabuco School. Onto the dirt road, make a left. This adds 840 feet in elevation and 4.45 miles to your hike, if you park here and hike in.

Trabuco Creek
Trabuco Creek, Holy Jim Falls

Most park in the Holy Jim lot, after they continue on the road for another 4.45 miles. The road is usually passable for most passenger cars, though washboarded in sections. On the left side of the parking lot, the trail ascends the canyon.

Lat:33.677, Lon:-117.5162 - Trail guides are available at the trailhead or from the Trabuco Ranger District.

Ranger Contact: Cleveland NF (951) 736-1811, Trabuco Ranger District. To park, a National Forest Adventure Pass is required. This can usually be purchased at the ranger station or at Big 5 stores.

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