This past weekend we took a trip to Trabuco Canyon, California for a family hike on the Holy Jim Falls Trail. We were expecting an easy trek to a pretty waterfall since we were a group of 5 adults and 3 kids- a 6 and 4 year old plus an infant in a carrier. But it turned out to be much more than that!
I recommend an SUV or truck or a vehicle with tires built for rugged terrain, first off. Once you get to the turn-off to get to this popular Orange County spot, the dirt/rock road 4.5 miles in to the (very small) parking area is a bumpy ride. Go slow and be careful if it’s a little washed out in places. (You need an Adventure Pass too, don’t forget that.)
Once we parked, we were greeted by wild turkeys. And we didn’t realize, but you have to pass by a bunch of cabins before you get to the actual trailhead. From there, the trail becomes a winding path through this beautiful canyon on your way to the miniature waterfall. But leave any strollers behind in the car, you won’t be able to use one.
Be prepared for uneven terrain at every turn, crisscrossing the creek many times (waterproof hiking boots a plus), navigating over logs and boulders, and avoiding poison oak plants. This trail is basically a long, slow moderate to difficult incline with pockets of breezes and some of the most varied vegetation in SoCal. We spotted clumps of ladybugs breeding on leaves and branches too, which was really fun for the little ones.
We also passed by many fellow hikers and a lot of dogs enjoying the challenge. All in all, it was a 6+ mile hike, 12,000 or so steps, 60+ “floors”, and took around 2 hours. And on a clear, sunny winter day here with family or friends, time well spent in the great outdoors.
Bring a light cover-up, hat, sunscreen, water, hiking footwear if you have it, and trail mix if you need a small snack stop. Look for a nice spot to meditate and munch about .5 miles from the waterfall (not much room to rest at the end of the trail there) where there’s stone remains of a wall of some sort. You can even lay down for a moment there!
-Summer (& Amanda, Drew & Josh, Juli, Gavin, Nathan, Macie)