Harding Truck Trail is a 26.5 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Trabuco Canyon, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, running, and mountain biking and is best used from April until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Length26.5 miElevation gain4963 ftRoute typeOut & back
Dogs on leashHikingMountain bikingrunningViewsWildflowersWildlifeRockyNo shade
Description
Waypoints (0)

Note: As of October 2020, this trail is currently open to hikers and bikers only. For more information, please see https://www.fs.usda.gov/detailfull/cleveland/alerts-notices/?cid=stelprdb5340229

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (115)
Photos (481)
Recordings (98)
Completed (235)
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Janice Esparza
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarJanuary 11, 2021
Running

Did this trail, not really a fan. I’d say more Moderate than hard. It’s basically a fire road the whole way. If your running watch out for the mountain bikers. Just being plenty of water and know shade is not happening. View is great but the hike to the view is rather boring- IMO.

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Erik Jacobson
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJanuary 2, 2021
HikingIcy

Views are good once you get to the top. Otherwise pretty quiet trail. Make sure to bring water. You need at least 3.5L per person.

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David Da Costa
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarDecember 29, 2020
Hiking
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Ali Eslami
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarDecember 20, 2020
HikingGreat!
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Greg P
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarNovember 29, 2020
HikingNo shade

I have ridden this trail over 50 times as a mountain biker, so I thought I would share information for all of the hikers out there. First, this trail is posted as a full out and back from the Modjeska Nature Sanctuary all the way to Santiago Peak. That is a long, full day trek with close to 5000 feet of elevation gain. I have only seen a handful of hikers use this front approach to the top of Santiago Peak, simply because the rear approach via Holy Jim trail and Main Divide is significantly shorter with much more shade (albeit steeper). At any rate, Harding Truck Trail up to Santiago Peak is made up of four segments. Harding Truck Trail to Laurel Springs (5.0 mile marker), to Four Corners (9.1 mile marker), to Modjeska Radar Towers (10.6 mile marker) and to Santiago Peak (13.8 mile marker). It is 100% fire road, and the forest service maintains the route for fire and cell/radar tower access – usually bulldozing the road once a year whether it is needed or not. I’m not sure about one of the reviews here that mentions stream crossings or water – there is NO water anywhere on the trail, no stream crossings, and almost no shade. It is a dangerously exposed trail on a hot summer day if you run low on water, and can be equally exposed if you happen to be high on the trail when a winter storm sweeps in. Assume a 20 degree temperature drop between the trail head and Four Corners – and maybe as much as 25 degrees to Santiago Peak. It can be a pleasant hike on a hot summer day as long as you leave early and gain elevation quickly before the heat of the day – however the return down the mountain can feel like you are hiking into a cauldron. The section between Four Corners and Santiago Peak is along Main Divide Fire Road. This segment is usually open to 4WD truck and moto traffic (with the exception of when the forest service closes the access roads due to rain). Be aware that you may be sharing this section of the trail with a lot of vehicle traffic – particularly on weekends. The bottom section between the trail head and Four Corners is closed to motorized vehicle traffic. The main redeeming feature of this trail is that long sections of the climb feature sweeping views to the west all the way to the Pacific Ocean. In that one respect, it is better than Blackstar Canyon, Silverado Canyon, Holy Jim Canyon, or Trabuco Canyon. However “great views” is another way of saying “no trees”. I cannot under-emphasize the importance of being prepared if you plan on hiking the entire distance. Do not attempt this trail in the winter without knowing what you are doing – the upper elevations are often below freezing, and at times will have 6” or more of snow and high winds, while conditions at the trail head are warm and calm. A final comment - cell phone reception is not continuously available for the entire length of this hike. There are sections with clear reception, while other sections will have none. Do not depend on cell-based navigation or communication.

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Israel Jimenez
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarNovember 11, 2020
Hiking
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Alfonso Macias Jr.
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Hiking

Beautiful

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Angela Ramos
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HikingBugsNo shade
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Edward Wynne
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HikingBugsOff trailOver grownRockyScramble

A rocky trail with a beaten path going upstream. Lots of rocks and branches to twist your ankles on if you’re not careful. Some critters you might find are some salamanders, spiders, antlions, waterbugs and birds. The water is nice and cool for you to soak yourself in. Bring some waterproof shoes and lots of water.

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Robert Cordova
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarMay 20, 2020
HikingOff trailRockyScramble

Rattlesnake

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Kent Huth
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMarch 8, 2020
Hiking

Just did this hike on Sunday all the way to both Modjeska and Santiago Peaks. I started off around 6:30, chasing the fog up the mountain. It took about 4.5 hours to get to the top of Modjeska. Santiago looked close but was actually an extra 5 miles round trip - deceptive but worth it. The views were incredible from the top of both peaks along with the whole way up and down. At one point, I could see San Clemente Island, Catalina, Santa Barbara Island, Palos Verdes, and the Santa Monica Mountains arrayed from south to north. The trail itself was pretty smooth and steady, never really exceeding more than 300 feet/mile. However, it is the distance that does you in. That and the fact that the trails curves around a lot - I would compare it to a slightly uphill version of 28 miles of circumnavigating Cherry Cove on Catalina. The trek downhill was far tougher than going uphill. Bring trekking poles and lots of ibuprofen - they will both come in handy. Weather was perfect - 50s to 60s at the bottom with high 30s(?) at the top. All told, it took about 11.5 hours to complete the hike. From the nature preserve up to Main Divide Road, I had it almost completely to myself, only encountering two mountain bikers. Past that, there were a lot of dirt bikers and jeeps/pickups. I had to move to the side of the trail to let them pass but everyone was extremely courteous and friendly. Great vibes all day and it was a joy to see everyone so stoked on being up there in the mountains having fun.

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Kimberly Welsh
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJanuary 18, 2020
Hiking

Did this one twice. This last one we hiked in October which was better weather wise. We hiked to the main divide (about 9.5 miles up) and then kept going to Modjeska Peak and then to Santiago Peak. It was about 14 miles total to the top. The views were incredible. We got on the trail at 6:50am and ended at 7pm. Brought head lamps for the very end as it had gotten dark on the last mile. Bring lots of water and food. I definitely recommend this hike if you are ready for the challenge. It’s an awesome accomplishment. Very rewarding.

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David Dimond
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJanuary 7, 2020
Hiking

Tough but rewarding hike the further you go. Excellent views abound. Do not attempt Santiago Peak in summer unless you know what you’re doing. Please don’t litter, bring plenty of water, and enjoy.

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Emily Clark
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 28, 2019
HikingNo shade

Went on a weekday with a friend and my pup. We saw about 5 people the whole time, which is pretty good in my book since I prefer to avoid crowds. It’s all uphill but it is doable and there was a bench with a lookout about 1.5ish miles in where we took a break. This would be a hard hike on a summer day but was perfect in the fall.

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Tony Lievanos
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarAugust 30, 2019
Hiking

Great trail, ran and hiked this one around 8am. It was still somewhat cool but heat really picked up just before 9am. There are some shady spots but they are few, make sure you are well hydrated and fueled for this trail. I can see why local trail runners like to use this for elevation and hill training. This is certainly an ideal spot to work on those apsects to prep for ultras. I had some tailwind, hammer gel and a pro meal bar to get me thru, worked fine. I spotted what looked like tarantula hawks flying around the higher elevations. Didn't realize we had those out here in the O.C. Came across one rattler making its way slowly across the road, normal trail stuff. Passed a few hikers early in the morning but ran solo the rest of the time for 10 miles. Ultimately, the trail is what it is, you only get out of it what you put into it.

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Tristan Larkin
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarJuly 17, 2019
HikingNo shadeRocky

Overall it should not be a particularly difficult hike (besides the length). It has gradual uphill and starts at low enough elevation. However, it was the most miserable hiking experience I have had. Make sure you have good shoes that will not irritate your feet and plenty of water. We took 11 hours and 9 of that was hiking. We also went through most of our 5L of water each with 4 miles left. We started around 6 am and the sun is relentless. Be safe and confident in your hiking, but I recommend other more fun hikes.

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J. Warner
Yellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarJune 16, 2019
OHV/Off-road drivingClosed

Gate was closed on 6/16/19. Harding Truck Trail was closed.

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Kimberly Welsh
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMay 6, 2019
HikingNo shadeRocky

Started at the Sanctuary parking lot in Modjeska. Amazing Views all the way up. Especially from Laurel Springs up to the Main Divide. It took close to 5 hours to get up there but I did stop to take pictures and hang out at the springs for a bit. Not a lot of shade so sunscreen is a must along with tons of water. It’s pretty much uphill the entire way. Definitely worth it! Took Maple Springs back down to Silverado Canyon. Started at 8:30 am and finished around 5pm. I want to go back and see Santiago Peak which was another 1.5 miles up but didn’t think I would have enough time to make it down before dark. Overall, a great workout and incredible views. Your feet and legs will be sore for sure!

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Jean Cassidy
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarApril 6, 2019
HikingNo shade

A very LONG hike but awesome. It seemed the only way to get to the top of Santiago Peak since there are trail closures from Holy Jim, we didn’t know of another way. (Apparently, there were as we came across some people at the top who came up a different way). We needed to get this out of the way now as it will be too warm after April to do it again. This is all fire roads so it is nice and wide. We started at 5:45 in the morning so the first mile was with headlamps. I recommend starting this trail early since you are completely exposed to the sun for the whole trail. We move pretty quick on the trails averaging 21 minutes per mile going up and 18 going down. So even though our actual moving time was 9-1/2 hours, we had another hour of stopping for lunch and snack breaks too. Beautiful wildflowers along the way. The rains we had this year made it the greenest I’ve ever seen it.

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Norma MV
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HikingNo shade
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Joe Mossa
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Mountain bikingNo shadeRocky
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