In 2014, Silverado canyon experienced a fire that blackened 1600 acres of the Cleveland National Forest. This prompted a closure of Maple Road in Silverado Canyon, which takes you to the Main Divide and Harding Truck Trail. Those of us that like to climb up to Santiago Peak or the Silverado Motorway via Maple Road had to wait close to 3 years before it re-opened. The ride to either location is no joke and requires serious legs to get there. We highly recommend that you be fully hydrated, stretch well, and get a good night’s rest before tackling either one. There is over 4100 feet of climbing to reach Santiago Peak, so heed our advice. Hikers, mountain bikers, and motor vehicles also share this road, so use plenty of caution. If you are not aware, motor vehicles are allowed on the Main Divide Road, and Maple Rd in Silverado Canyon is one of the few places you can access it on a vehicle. Be prepared to eat a lot of dust if vehicles are making their way up and down. Obviously, there is more vehicle activity on the weekends, so plan your ride accordingly.
Distance: 23.91 mi
Avg Speed: 5.1 mph
Elevation Gain: 4,931 ft
Calories: 2,044 C
From 55 frwy exit Chapman Avenue and head East towards the hills. This turns into the S18/Santiago Canyon Road. Take this for about 11 miles until you see Tree Farm on left and turn left onto Prairie Road and then quick right onto Silverado Canyon Road. Follow to narrow-windy road for about 3 miles until it dead ends. There is limited parking which requires $5 pass to park or, if gates are open, you can park inside where there is room. If you don’t bring the parking pass, (which can be purchased online for annual pass or purchased at local store in the area) they will issue you a ticket for $5 which can be mailed in.
From the 5 frwy exit El Toro Road and head NE about 13 miles. Turn right on Prairie Raod and quick right onto Silverado Canyon Road. Head for about 3 miles until dead end. Parking pass $5 is required.
(hover over steps for images – some steps may not have images)
0.0- Begin making your way up Maple Road form the parking area. The first 3 miles is all paved, but the gain in elevation is immediate. It is not a steep grade, which makes for a great warmup before you get to the dirt.
3.08- The paved road ends and the climbing continues on the wide fire road. The next 4 miles consists of fairly, well maintained road, and the grade is not too bad. There is a series of wide switchbacks as you make your way up the mountain, which makes the downhill a blast. Alternate riding off and on the saddle to keep circulation free in all the right areas.
7.3- You will have reached the intersection of Maple Road, Main Divide, and Harding Truck Trail at this point. It is a wide-open area for vehicles to park, or for people to take a quick breather. Take advantage of the rest stop, because the next 4 miles of this ride is the steepest and toughest. To your right, you will notice Harding Truck Trail, but continue climbing straight up for about 100 yards to hit Main Divide and head right towards the signal towers. If you opt to go left, it will take you into Corona and the Motorway. There are trail markers to let you know where you are riding.
The next mile or so quickly turns into road full of rocks, which makes the ride more challenging. In some sections, the rocks seem to be compacted into the road, so riding over them is not too bad, but your legs will be on fire! This section looks like it was improved since the last time we rode it, which was very loose at the time.
8.2- After you overcome this section, you will reach a saddle that will take you on a descent for the next mile or so. After all the climbing you have done so far, this is a welcome relief! Just remember that you will have to climb this area on the way back! Soon, the climbing resumes and it is time to climb all the way to Santiago Peak. At times, it seems like you will never reach it, but keep pedaling and you will eventually get there.
11.4- You have reached the top! Enjoy the views. You deserve it. Once you are ready, begin your descent the same way you came up, which can be grueling in itself due the length of the descent. Again, use caution going downhill to avoid running into cars, dirt bikes, and other mountain bikers!
23.9-Back to your car. What a welcome sight!