Silverado Canyon to Modjeska Peak

Silverado Canyon. Modjeska Peak

It’s been a few years since I tackled this hike, but I’m posting it for the sake of being thorough.  Silverado Canyon is a tough uphill hike in Orange County. This is the most remote and secluded area of the county and  you might not see another person on this trail. 

This hike starts at a locked gate on Silverado Canyon Road. You hike into the canyon on a packed gravel road for the first mile following the creek. Eventually, the trail turns to dirt and you begin the steady ascent up the mountain. This trail has a steep grade. If you bring your mountain bike, you should plan on walking it up a lot of the trail unless you're a beast. There are several gates at the top of the mountain, and sometimes they’re locked. Make sure to remember where they're at if you plan on bombing down the hill on your return trip. You can make a left at the first trail intersection of the Main Divide and continue a few miles further North up the mountain to Bedford Peak, or you can turn right and head South to Modjeska Peak, Santiago Peak and Trabuco Peak. I've only ever finished the hike to Modjeska. You could hike and camp for several days up there and not see it all. I recommend doing this hike in the spring or fall because the trail is completely exposed in the summer and relatively steep.

A word of caution: This is the only trail in California that I’ve ever gotten “lost” on. I tried to find a shortcut down the mountain on what I thought was a fire road. It wasn’t. The sun went down and my girlfriend and I had to bushwhack through a mile of underbrush in the dark until we were back on the trail. She lost her camera when she was sliding on her butt on a 80 percent grade in a dry creek bed. I haven’t been able to get her to go back to Silverado Canyon since then.

Directions: From the 55 in Costa Mesa, exit onto E Chapman and head East. After about 4 miles, E Chapman turns into E Santiago canyon Road. Continue past Irvine Lake on E Santiago Canyon Road. You will cross the Toll Road, but make sure to stay on Santiago Canyon Road. Finally, turn left onto Silverado Canyon Road.  Continue for another 3 miles to the locked gate at the end of Silverado Canyon Road.

Also nearby: Blackstar Canyon, Holy Jim Trail and the San Juan Loop. Check out the map below if you want to turn this into an overnight trip. 

Silverado Canyon Trail

Silverado Canyon. San Mateo Wilderness Map

Silverado Canyon. LOST


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