Indian Truck Trail to Main Divide Road
- Location: Santa Ana Mountaon foothills south of Corona. Note that the area is currently under construction, and directions and parking conditions may change. Directions here are correct as of November, 2012. From I-15, take the Indian Truck Trail exit. Head southwest (turn right if you’re coming from the north, left if from the south) to Campbell Ranch Road and turn right. Go 0.4 miles and turn left on Mayhew Canyon Road. Go 0.4 miles and turn left on Santiago Canyon Road. Drive 0.8 miles and park before a gate marked as private property. Begin walking on a dirt road heading south, with a sign for a Korean church.
- Agency: Cleveland National Forest, Trabuco Ranger District
- Distance: 14 miles
- Elevation gain: 2,600 feet
- Suggested time: 6.5 hours
- Difficulty rating: R (Distance, elevation gain)
- Best season: November – April
- USGS topo maps: Alberhill; Santiago Peak
- Recommended gear: Sunblock; Sun Hat; Insect Repellent
- Recommended guidebook: Afoot and Afield: Orange County
- More information: here; video here; Everytrail report here
- Rating: 8
If conditions are good – cool temperatures and clear air – this is one of the best hikes in the Santa Ana Mountains. Indian Truck Trail is one of the principle routes to Main Divide Road from the east.
From the edge of Corona, a long but moderate hike takes you into the heart of the Santa Ana Mountains, providing great views on the way up. Lacking the payoff of a summit, as well as an unfortunate amount of trash and graffiti (mainly in the lower section) holds this hike back from being truly great, but it’s still well worth a visit, especially in the cool winter months. It’s a great training hike, but while it tests your endurance, it doesn’t present any difficulty in terrain, navigation, altitude or steepness. It’s not far from north O.C., or even L.A., and for Corona and Riverside residents, it could scarcely be more convenient.
From Santiago Canyon Road, begin by heading south on the Indian Truck Trail, following a metal fence. The beginning of the trail might not seem promising, but a few oaks provide shade and you get a nice view into a shallow canyon on the left. At 0.7 miles, you pass the Grace Church; stay right and continue to a metal vehicle gate. Technically, motorized vehicles are not allowed past this point, but a few may sneak over from the Orange County side, so be careful.
The road follows a serpentine course, taking in views of Indian Canyon on the left and Mayhew Canyon on the right. You may get a glimpse of pointy Trabuco Peak, the third highest summit in the Santa Anas, in the distance. At about 1.6 miles, keep an eye out for an interesting line of holes cut into the rock on the side of the road.
As you ascend, you get nice views of San Gorgonio and San Jacinto, and soon, you can see Mt. Baldy and the San Gabriels. At about 4 miles, you begin to see pines and firs; you are now on the pleasantly cool north side of the ridge. At 4.6 miles, look for a turnout where you can enjoy great views of Baldy, San Gorgonio and San Jacinto, as well as Lake Mathews.
You continue through a pleasant grove of pines, and then at 5.5 miles, the trail makes a slight dip down to a saddle. Here you get some nice views of Santiago Peak, tallest summit in the Santa Anas (but of course, you already knew that.)
A moderate ascent, through more pines, brings you to Main Divide Road. Here, you get a nice view down into Holy Jim Canyon (believe it or not, the waterfall is just over one air mile away). You can also see Trabuco Peak to the southeast. While this destination might seem a little anti-climatic after a 7-mile hike, it’s a nice place to rest before making your descent.
Text and photography copyright 2012 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.