- Location: Santa Ana Mountains near the town of Silverado, eastern Orange County. From the south, take I-5 to the El Toro Road exit. Go northeast on El Toro for 11.6 miles (it becomes Santiago Canyon Road on the way), and go right (east) on Silverado Canyon Road. At 5.4 miles, park at the forest gate. From the north or west, take the 55 freeway to Chapaman. Head east on Chapman (which becomes Santiago Canyon Road) for 11 miles and go left onto Silverado Canyon and follow it to the gate. (If the gate is open you can drive a short distance and park in a dirt lot right next to the trail head). A National Forest Service Adventure Pass ($5 for a day or $30 for the year) is required for parking. Click here to purchase. (NOTE: Silverado Canyon Road may be subject to weather-related closures. Check the link below for updates).
- Agency: Cleveland National Forest/Trabuco Ranger District
- Distance: 7 miles
- Elevation gain: 2,000 feet
- Suggested time: 4 hours
- Difficulty Rating: PG-13 (Elevation gain, distance)
- Best season: October – May
- Dogs: Allowed (exercise caution on warm days; be aware of vehicle traffic on Main Divide Road; some of the rocky terrain may be difficult on their paws)
- Cell phone reception: None
- Water: None
- Restrooms: Chemical toilets at the trailhead
- Camping/backpacking: None
- Recommended gear: sunblock; sun hat; hiking poles
- Recommended guidebook: Afoot and Afield: Orange County
- More information: trip descriptions here, here, here and here.
- Rating: 8
Updated March 2018
Straddling the Orange/Riverside County line, Bedford Peak is the seventh tallest named summit in the Santa Ana Mountains at 3,800 feet. Although that is almost 2,000 feet lower than the range’s highest peak, Santiago, Bedford’s views are almost as impressive. If visibility is good, the vistas may extend from Cuyamaca Peak in the southeast to Santa Barbara Island in the west. You will also likely see Mt. Lukens’ round shape far to the northwest and the low-lying shape of San Clemente Island to the left of Catalina.
Of course, you have to work for those views. After walking a short distance past the gate along the pavement, you pick up the Maple Springs Truck Trail (Silverado Trail on some maps) on the left and begin an ascent of 1,400 feet in two miles that is completely exposed (although late in the day you will have the advantage of having the sun blocked out by the steep canyon walls). The beautiful drive to the trail head, along oak-shaded Silverado Canyon Road, amounts to false advertising. Nevertheless, as you climb, the views get better and better: east deeper into the canyon and west toward the ocean.
At 2.2 miles you reach a ridge separating Silverado Canyon from Ladd Canyon to the north. The trail heads northeast, making one more ascent before leveling out, providing a welcome break from the ascent (your work is now basically over). Bedford’s round summit is now visible. You meet Main Divide Road at 3 miles where you will bear right and follow it for 0.3 miles, enjoying views of San Gorgonio, San Jacinto and Lake Elsinore. Look for a broken pipe fence with a use trail climbing a short distance to Bedford’s summit ridge. At the southern end of the ridge is a metal bench, placed there in 2013 – a welcome addition to the previously bare summit.
Text and photography copyright 2018 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result from hiking on this trail. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.