General Overview: 

If you are looking to dust off your four wheel drive and enjoy a short hike, then the Holy Jim Falls Trail is your next adventure! It’s an off-roading experience to drive to the trail head, as you need to drive 4 miles down a bumpy dirt road. Make sure you bring a car with high clearance, such as a SUV or a Truck. Four wheel drive is not necessary, but it’s recommended. We actually saw 2 low clearance cars that were stuck in the dirt on our drive out. And, you don’t don’t want get towed as the expense can be doubled in dirt road conditions.It’s a short 3-mile round trip hike to Holy Jims Falls and back to the trail head. This trail is frequently used as the first section to hike Saddleback Mountain. The trail switches back and forth across a creek bank. Use caution when crossing back and forth on the creek.

We recommend experiencing this hike after a recent rain or in the early Spring to help increase your chance of seeing water coming down the falls. However, we recommend waiting a few days after a major rainfall as water levels can get high in the creek.

If you are feeling brave, you can try and wade in the water at the base of the fall. Although it’s very shallow!

Holy Jims Fall is a fun weekend adventure and that can be enjoyed by hikers of all ages. From driving on a bumpy road to crossing back and forth on the trail’s creek, the experience offers an environment that is constantly changing.
We enjoyed the sites and sounds of the fall and found it a relaxing environment to enjoy a snack. If you’re looking for a scenic and easier hike, this is it!
Trail Map


View Holy Jim Falls Hiking Trail in a larger map

Directions/Address:

From Los Angeles/North Orange County Area:
  • Take 1-5 South
  • Take the exit onto CA-133N toward Santa Margarita (toll road)
  • Take the exit onto CA-241 S Toward Santa Margarita (toll road)
  • Take the Santa Margarita Parkway Exit (toll road)
  • Turn right onto Santa Margarita Pkwy
  • Turn left onto Plano Trabuco Rd
  • Plano Trabuco Rd turns left and becomes Trabuco Canyon Rd
  • Follow Trabuco Creek Rd to the Holy Jim Falls trail head.
From San Diego/SouthOrange County Area:
  • Take 1-5 North
  • Take the Oso Pkwy exit
  • Turn right onto Oso Pkwy
  • Turn left onto Antonio Pkwy
  • Turn right onto Alas De Paz
  • Turn left onto Plano Trabuco Rd
  • Plano Trabuco Rd turns left and becomes Trabuco Canyon Rd
  • Follow Trabuco Creek Rd to the Holy Jim Falls trail head.

Where to Park:  

  • A parking area is located shortly after the volunteer fire station on Trabuco Creek Rd.
    A Forest Adventure Pass is required for parking, because the parking area is located in the Cleveland National Forest.
When to Go


  • Early Spring: We recommend going in the early spring or a few days after a rainfall to help increase your chances of seeing water flow down the river. If you are going on the weekend, we recommend leaving before 11:00 AM as the trail is a popular destination for Orange County residents. 

How it Looks:  
Drive out to Holy Jim Trailhead.
The trailhead is located shortly after the volunteer fire station.
Holy Jim Trail.
Hiker at the trailhead.
Hiker crossing the trail’s creek.
If you continue left onto the Main Divide Road, you can hike to Saddleback Mountain.
Hiker celebrating a successful hike.
Hikers enjoying Holy Jim Falls.
Dog Friendly
  • Yes, dogs are permitted on leashes.
Intensity Levels
  • Barry-the-Bear: “This was perfect hike at 3-mile round-trip. It had beautiful scenery, especially with the flowing waterfall.”
  • Larry-the-Lion: “A blast! I was soooo excited to finally use my four wheel drive! I roared the on the drive out. Oh yeah and the hike was very scenic. Although short, we enjoyed spending time at the water fall and then enjoying a round of drinks at Cooks Corner.”
  • Chris-the-Cheetah:
    Short! I used this hike as my warm-up to climbing Saddleback Mountain.”
Have you enjoyed the Holy Jims Falls Hike? Share your experience with a comment below!

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