Sometimes you just need to feel some dirt under your tires… I don’t know if it’s just me but I get that restless feeling and I just have to get off the pavement. In between Orange and Riverside counties are the Santa Ana Mountains and the Cleveland National Forest. Along the ridge top is the Main Divide road, a 35 mile trail running from Ortega Highway to the 91 freeway. Main Divide is a great outlet for anyone in the area that just needs to get away from the city even for just a couple of hours. Today I entered the Cleveland National Forest via the City of Orange and driving past the tiny little town of Silverado, named for the silver mines in the area, you head up the mountainside towards Santiago Peak.
There are a couple of creek crossings at the beginning but they were dry when I went through the last few times. I’m sure with some rain they might have a little water in them but it’s nothing to worry about. Already the scenery starts improving and with more elevation you start to feel the stress melt away…
After just a few miles you really start to feel like you are far from the city. Generally a easy going road and rated a moderate trail you can stay on the well graded main trail but if you feel like a little fun there are several alternate routes that allow you to exercise your suspension a little. With some twisty parts as you head into the hills and some exposure as you climb in elevation this trail is great for a leisurely cruise. Remember to take it easy around the bends as there are moutain bikers, horseback riders and hikers in the area too!
The highest peak in Orange County, its top is covered in communications towers and microwave antennas. At 5,600′ on a clear day you can see the ocean and once in awhile during the winter snow can blanket the peak. The trail from Santiago Canyon to the 91 takes a couple of hours and is a great little trail for those who want to get out for an afternoon.
Got a chance to stretch out those springs for the first time, I was suprised at how much travel they actually allowed! A lot of people say that the Bilsteins that come with the TRD package are not worth the extra money but I disagree. The perfromance is much better than the non-TRD shocks and they come with a factory warranty. As long as you aren’t entering any offroad races these shocks are fine. That’s not to say that I’m not going to replace them with some better ones, I’m just saying it may not be needed depending on your needs.
Coming down from Pleasant Peak on the Main Divide Road, trying to find our way down before it got too dark. There are a few different ways to get down off the Main Divide so you can take a different route each time you go!
The suspension on the truck worked great and there was a lot more flex than I expected out of the stock TRD Bilsteins. On our second trip I got a flat tire just before Bedford Peak and needed to make a quick exit. Remember to be prepared for the unexpected and take it easy on those stock tires!
For more pictures from this trip, click here…