As seen in the Nobody Hikes in L.A. Guidebook!
Text and photography copyright 2010 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. The author does not take any responsibility for injuries sustained during hikes or walks on the routes described here. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.
- 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. A National Forest Service Adventure Pass ($5 for a day or $30 for the year) is required for parking. Click here to purchase.
- Agency: Cleveland National Forest/Trabuco Division
- Distance: 6.6 miles
- Elevation gain: 2,200 feet
- Suggested time: 3.5 hours
- Difficulty Rating: PG-13 (Elevation gain, steepness)
- Best season: October – May
- Recommended gear: hiking poles; sun hat
- USGS topo maps: Santiago Peak and Corona South
- More information: trip reports here and here.
- Rating: 8
The 3,800 foot Bedford Peak might not be as well known as its more famous neighbors to the southeast, Modjeska and Santiago, but it provides a challenge that rivals either of the summits of Old Saddleback. While the route to Bedford is just over three miles, the hiker gains over 2,000 feet of elevation during that time–and most of it is at the beginning. This is one hike that definitely does not waste time.
From the lot, continue heading east on Maple Springs Road and after 0.3 miles, look for the Silverado Trail (also known as the Silverado Motorway). Take a hard left and begin your climb. As the trail switchbacks out of the canyon, you get nice views of the Santa Anas, and higher up, the ocean. The work is hard, but there are many places where you can stop and rest and enjoy the scenery.
After about two miles, your life gets a little easier, as the trail picks up a ridgeline and heads northeast. Now, you have views of the San Gabriels as well. The trail goes up and over a few small bumps before reaching Main Divide Road at 2.9 miles.
Here, you take a right and head southeast toward Bedford’s summit. As you pass underneath, there are a few vague trails that lead to the summit. Look for one at about 0.3 miles past Main Divide and make the ascent.
The views are good from the top; the huge bulk of Modjeska Peak dominates the south; the ocean is visible to the west; the San Gabriels are in the north and on clear days, the San Jacintos and San Bernardinos can be seen to the east. Unfortuately there’s no good place to sit and enjoy the scene, (you’d think that for all the trouble you went through you’d at least have a bench, or a flat rock), but after the workout of this climb, sitting on the ground is better than nothing.
On the way back, the views can be particularly good at sunset. The fire-road descent is easy to follow even if the light is fading, although as always you should be careful. Either way, Bedford Peak offers a great workout with a lot of views in a short distance.