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Holy Jim Falls Trail

Holy Jim Falls - Orange County, CA

We had some great weather this past weekend here in Orange County (again...), so I took advantage of it and went for a solo hike up in the Cleveland National Forest (again...). This time, I decided to hit the Holy Jim Falls Trail in Trabuco Canyon.

My dad used to take my brothers and I to hike this trail when we were kids. In fact, it was those trips that helped me find my passion in landscape photography. But I hadn't hit this trail for at least 10 years, I think, due to the fact that I didn't have any 4x4 to get out there.

But man...I must have forgotten how beautiful this trail was or maybe I just didn't appreciate it as a kid and before I picked up a camera, but this trail was absolutely gorgeous! The hike winds through lush green forest, criss-crossing the crystal-clear Holy Jim Creek until you reach the 18-foot tall Holy Jim Falls. The various cascades leading up to the main falls coupled with the rich greens of the Spring foliage made for some awesome pictures.

Holy Jim Falls Trail - Orange County, CA

Holy Jim Falls Trail - Orange County, CA

Holy Jim Falls Trail - Orange County, CA

To my surprise, there were lots of patches of snow along the path. To those not familiar with the area, getting snow in these parts is rare and fleeting at best.

In one of the patches of snow at the base of a tree, I found a very clear paw print of a mountain lion track. This kind of evidence of these dangerous animals always gets me to start looking over my shoulder a bit more when I'm hunched over my tripod. For an ambush predator like that, a photographer crouched low along a babbling brook must look like Thanksgiving dinner.

Cougar Track along Holy Jim Falls Trail - Orange County, CA

The paw print was about 3.5 inches wide and 3 inches from toe to heel. Definitely a cougar.

Holy Jim Falls - Orange County, CA

Holy Jim Falls - Orange County, CA

Holy Jim Falls - Orange County, CA

After reaching Holy Jim Falls and photographing the hell out of it, I made my way back to the car and started the rough drive out to the main road. But before I could get home for some dinner, I had to stop along the highway for a few last-minute shots of the rolling green hills and puffy clouds as they gathered the sunset light. Click the pano for a bigger view.

Green Hills - Orange County, CA

Green Hills - Orange County, CA

Green Hills - Orange County, CA