Harding Truck Trail, Modjeska Canyon (Orange County)

Directions: Exit I-5 at El Toro Rd in Orange County and head East for about 7.5 miles where the road splits into a Y.  Take Santiago Canyon Rd to the left for about 1 mile and turn right onto Modjeska Grade Rd.  Follow this winding road uphill then downhill and turn right on Modjeska Canyon Rd.  Drive very slow through this neighborhood because of blind spots and the narrow roadway.  After about a 1/2 mile, turn right on Harding Canyon and follow to the end (about 1/4 mile).  Free parking is available at Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary and there are some off-street spots nearby. (Caution: Your car will be towed - or worse - if you don't observe various 'No Parking' signs in the surrounding neighborhood.)

Trail Information: If miles and miles of near-relentless uphill running appeals to you, then this is your nirvana.  This fire road of hard-packed dirt with occasional rock-strewn stretches begins at around 1,400 ft and can take you as high as 5,600 ft if you want to reach the top of Saddleback Mountain.  Harding Truck Trail itself is about 9 miles long with an elevation gain of 3,000 feet (with only two short distances of downhill the entire way).  The trail (in name only) terminates at what is known as Four Corners, which then lets you turn around and run 9 glorious miles downhill back to your car.  If you continued on the 'Main Divide Road' trail from Four Corners, you can add another 3 miles to summit at Modjeska Peak and another 2.5 miles beyond that to reach Saddleback.

Miscellaneous Information: Impossible to get lost since there are no real side trails.
Drinking water available only at parking area. Carry lots!
Occassional hikers and bikers but mostly traffic-free.
Relatively safe to solo.

Joe A.