What did you do on New Years day? Did you watch the Rose Parade? Some bowl games? Maybe nurse a hang over? Well guess what we did? We took a hike!
The weather was perfect and nature was calling. We had just had a big storm over Christmas so the water was flowing from the mountains. A perfect time for a stream side hike to a waterfall. Holy Jim Falls was close by and highly rated on Localhikes.com so I figured it was the perfect hike to take.
Holy Jim Falls is located in the Cleveland National Forest back in Trabuco Canyon. Driving there is an adventure in itself. Its only about 15 miles off I5 but the last 5 miles of the drive are on a very bumpy dirt road. If you go after alot of rain it is also a puddle filled and wet with some small stream crossings. I personally wouldn't do this drive in a compact 2WD vehicle (though quite a few people do) but if you have an SUV or truck, its a blast. Sure your car will be a filthy mess but you finally get to do some off-roading in a vehicle made to off road.
Please also note that you will need an Adventure Pass to park on the National Forest land (we purchased ours at Sports Chalet a couple days earlier. Click on this link to see the closest place to get yours) Once you get to the falls parking area, you start out up a dirt road lined with cabins. I looked at those cabins with envy. Holy Jim Canyon is certainly a great place to have a vacation home. After about a half mile or so you will reach the trail head for Holy Jim Falls.
This is an easy trail but after heavy rains you have to do some stream crossing. We did just fine crossing the stream with our two year old twins. There are rocks or trees to walk on to avoid getting wet (unless you think you are stepping on a rock and instead you step on a leaf and get a shoe full of water).
The path has plenty of shade and mostly follows the creek. The canyons that surround you are so rugged and steep that you have to crane your neck to see the tops. The hike itself should only take a couple hours but with small children who love to stop at every creek crossing and throw rocks into the water, it is an all day event. I pushed us to reach the waterfall because I felt like we needed to make it to the end but honestly, its nothing to write home about. Sure its pretty but I think the journey there is just as pretty. So don't sweat it if your little ones want to call it quits a little early. Since this is a single track trail, it is not stroller friendly for much of the way. It is very kid friendly and I think its the perfect place for all ages because it isn't difficult but it is fulfilling for everyone involved. There is only a slight incline on the way to the falls and most of the trip back to the car is downhill so you will find yourself making it back in no time.
Highlights of our hike included Mari reminding us no less than 50 times that "dacus is a ow" (translation cactus hurt if you touch them so don't touch them), Ben throwing enough rocks into the stream to probably permanently alter its route, the trail tunneling under a large bush, and Paul doing the Karate Kid pose and almost falling off the log into the stream.
I would certainly do this hike again. Locals should try to make it out next time we have big rain. Out of towners should consider taking a side trip next time you plan that Disney vacation. I mean honestly, how many days of Mickey, crowds and concrete can you take before you just ache for a little bit of nature?