Tag Archives: hiking

Santiago Peak Hike

It’s a rather slow time of year (for hiking at least) in Colorado, so I thought I’d talk a little about the Santiago Peak hike I did in Orange County, CA in 2011.

We used to live in Orange County (we were there from 2003 until the end of 2011) and by the time I decided to do the hike I already knew we would likely be leaving before long. And of course we did end up moving away.

Santiago Peak is the highest point in Orange County and loomed over our home for the six years we lived in the Portola Hills area. For most of that time I contemplated hiking it, but it was only when we were planning on leaving the area that I decided it was actually time to do it.

While the peak only rises to a modest 5,600 ft, the trail in 18 miles round trip (parking is a mile from the trailhead) and elevation gain is 4500 ft. So the hike is certainly not easy. Likewise the vast majority of residents of Orange County have no idea where the trailhead even is, as it is hidden off a canyon road (it is called the Holy Jim Trail). Also, wildfires have routinely affected the area of the trail in the years since I made this hike so much of the greenery may no longer be quite what you see in the photos.

The hike was on a hot Feb day (seems strange to say that now that I live in Colorado) and for the first several miles it was a rather unspectacular jaunt through canyons and hillsides of scrub. Eventually, however, the switch-backing trail began the full ascent of the peak and the views of the surrounding areas opened up.

While the summit is comprised of unsightly radio antennas, there is an impressive panorama of sites visible from the top. There was even a bit of snow on the shaded side of the summit. You can see Mt. San Jacinto (located near Palm Springs), Lake Elsinore to the east, and the Pacific Coast to the west in the photos below.

The entire hike took about 4 hours to complete at a fairly rapid pace. But for a memorable day hike in Orange County this is certainly a good choice.

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Hiking Rocky Mountain National Park

Hiking Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park is the largest national park in Colorado and one of the most visited in the country. Over the course of many years I’ve hiked dozens of trails in this park, from the short and family-friendly Emerald Lake, to the ultra-challenging Longs Peak trail. Read on…

The Central Coast via Highway 1

The Central Coast via Highway 1

I lived three years on the Central Coast of California in the early 2000s and, along with subsequent visits as a family, we’ve gotten to know the area pretty well. The Central Coast is a laid-back sanctuary about halfway between the LA and Bay Area metro areas and a world apart from the traffic gridlock of those metropolises. Read on…

Lory State Park

We got out as a whole family and drove north to Fort Collins to do some hiking. We found Lory State Park right outside town by the Horsetooth Reservoir and hiked the short but steep Arthur’s Rock Trail. Then we headed to town for some good food and beer at the CooperSmith’s Brewery.

I got my first photo of a western tanager and assorted other plants and animals.