I have been meaning to hike this peak for a long time. Looking south from the Inland Empire, I can see the Saddleback range looming large everyday. My initial plan was to hike from Vincent Gap to the Islip Saddle on Pacific Crest Trail, but quite a bit of snow fell on Friday night and I wanted to make sure Julia and I got our mileage in for the trek training.
Holy Jim trail is a little more than 7 miles each way, but we also hiked the Trabuco Creek road to the trail head adding just under 5 miles each way. The total distance on this hike was 24 miles, and we covered the distance in 8:39:14. The road in is passable with an AWD vehicle with clearance, but anything else is just not a smart move. I did see a Civic in the parking lot for Holy Jim trail, but I also saw Trabuco Creek road littered with stray car parts that had been knocked off from journeys past.
The extra five mile walk to the trailhead turned out to be a nice addition, as we got to watch the sunrise over the range before us. The beginning of Holy Jim crosses over a stream a few times before ascending via switchbacks for a couple of good miles. The vast majority of the trail is smooth and flat, and the grade is never that steep. The exception is the Upper Jim Trail, which has been heavily rutted by rain. Although this hike is long, it is fairly easy and probably better suited for trail running and mountain biking. The summit is rather underwhelming. Much like Mt Wilson, the roads and man made structures obscure the majority of views that could potentially be on offer. The final touch was having to inhale toxic fumes pumping from the generators. Nonetheless, it was still a great accomplishment to reach the top.