North Main Divide Road

Total Miles
12.0

Elevation

1718.59 ft

Duration

Hours

Technical Rating

3

Easy

Best Time

spring, summer, fall, winter

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Trail Overview

Tucked amidst the hustle and bustle of Southern California's heavily-populated coast is a slice of heaven called the Cleveland National Forest. This mountainous region is undeveloped save for a few great trails connecting world-class views to cozy campgrounds. The North Main Divide Road enters the forest from the southeast near Lake Elsinore and climbs to one of the region's highlights, Santiago Peak Lookout. The road itself is fairly easy but steep and rutted in places with plenty of exposure on the cliff sides. Brush can get thick, leading to pin-striping, and travelers should be aware that trees come down across the trail often in burn areas, so be prepared to clear them. At our time of travel, one section was blocked by a massive tree and required a bypass. The bypass is steep and off-camber, but most stock 4x4s should be able to handle it if approached with caution. Cell service is decent at the top of the mountain but spotty throughout the rest of the trail. Watch for oncoming traffic on the narrow shelf road and drive with respect and care for others.

Difficulty

Easy

History

Santiago Peak lies in Orange County, in the Trabuco Ranger District of the Cleveland National Forest at an elevation of 5,690 feet. The original 70-foot lookout tower was built in 1914, and was removed by the CCC in 1935. A 35-foot tower with a 10-foot cab was built in 1951. The remaining structure is currently surrounded by communications facilities.

Technical Rating

3

Access Description

Start in the city of Lake Elsinore and follow Highway 74 towards either Long Canyon Road or North Main Divide Road.