This is a solid intermediate level ride beginning with a somewhat rocky climb along the Trabuco Creek and a somewhat exposed trail coming down Holy Jim.
To get to the Trabuco Trail, drive out on the Trabuco Creek Road from Trabuco Canyon Road (Live Oak Canyon Road if you’re coming from Santiago Canyon Road). Park at the Holy Jim parking area and then get on your bike. (Forest Adventure Pass required.) You’ll want to have a truck or SUV with high clearance for all the creek crossings. Carpooling is recommended as there’s limited parking available. You can leave cars (including normal passenger cars) at the beginning of Trabuco Creek Road where the Forest Adventure pass is not required.
From the Holy Jim parking area, take the right fork. In about 1/4 mile, passing through some cabins, you’ll reach the Trabuco trailhead. From the parking area, it’s about a 5 mile climb going up Trabuco to get to the Main Divide and that’s where you’ll gain the majority of elevation for this ride (about 2600 feet).
Optionally, on your way up the Trabuco Trail, you can take a left and walk up the Horsethief Trail to cut out some mileage. Both the Trabuco Trail and East Horsethief connect to the Main Divide, where you’ll turn left.
Once at the Main Divide / Trabuco intersection, you’ll head east (left) toward Santiago Peak for about 7 miles to get to the top of the Holy Jim trail. There are a few climbs involved, but nothing nearly as hard as the Trabuco Trail.
From the top of the Holy Jim Trail, the next 5 miles down Holy Jim is pretty much all downhill and super fun.
Your only turn option on the way down is at the Holy Jim falls intersection. It’s worth seeing if you’re on foot, but I wouldn’t recommend taking your bike to the falls. (I’ve done it. It sucks – especially in bike shoes.) Continue straight at that intersection through an increasingly difficult number of stream crossings to the end of the Holy Jim trail. From there you head down the fire road back to the Holy Jim parking area.
This is a great ride to do late winter / early spring. In the summer, temperatures can easily be in the 90’s for the entire ride.
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