Santiago Canyon


Santiago Canyon is an unincorporated community in Silverado, California. According to the 2000 census, Santiago Canyon has several hundred residents living within its borders. Two canyons that border Santiago Canyon include Trabuco Canyon and Modjeska Canyon. Modjeska and Santiago Canyon are both sections of Silverado. One of a few neighborhood communities in Santiago Canyon include the Santiago Canyon Estates and the Falcon View Estates. The landmark Cook’s Corner motorcycle restaurant is also located within Santiago Canyon.


Within the canyons, geology students will find excellent examples of exfoliation, in which rock layers peel back like layers of an onion, and of frost wedging, in which ice trapped in a crack expands to split a rock. Paleontology students will see fossils of millions of clams, snails, and small-shelled, squid-like creatures left behind during the five times that seas washed over the ground.

Appearing more than 12 million years ago, the highest points surrounding the canyons are Santiago Peak at 5,689 feet (1,734 m) and Modjeska Peak at 5,481 feet (1,671 m). Together the pair forms “Old Saddleback,” an easily recognizable landmark.

The first people to live in the canyons were Native Americans (the Acjachemem). They arrived to find dense woods filled with live oaks, sycamores, mountain ash, and pines buffeted by winds. Dependent on acorns as their staple food, the Native Americans cut paths through the wilderness to reach oak groves. After collecting the acorns, they carried them to canyon streams and immersed the nuts in the running water to leach out the bitter tannic acid. Once done, they carried the acorns to a large boulder or rock outcropping, where they used mortars to grind the nuts into powder. Over open fires, they cooked a porridge called “atole.”


Hiking and mountain biking are the two common forms of recreation in Santiago Canyon, due to the area’s mountainous terrain. Some popular trails include the Modjeska Trail and Live Oak Canyon Trail, both available for hiking and mountain biking. Santiago Canyon’s signature recreation trail is the Santiago Truck Trail, ideal for hiking, running, and mountain biking. The Santiago Truck Trail stretches 8 miles (13 km), to the trail end, “Old Camp”. Bird watching is also a prominent activity in the canyon; native birds in the area include the Turkey Vulture, Red Tailed Hawk, and Golden Eagle, all of which can be seen in the Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary in neighboring Modjeska Canyon as well. Motorcyclists and Bicyclists are common sights in Santiago Canyon. A popular bicycle ride is Como Street, which passes through the canyon main road every Sunday morning. The California historic landmark site Cooks Corner restaurant is a favorite among motorcyclists. It is one of the more famous sites in Orange County.

Wildfires of 2007:

Santiago Canyon was home to one of the major California wildfires of October 2007. The “Santiago Fire” endangered the Santiago Canyon Estates, as well Falcon View Estates, and nearby Modjeska Canyon, Trabuco Canyon, and other areas. All homeowners in those communities were placed under mandatory evacuation, with the roads Plano Trabuco and Live Oak Canyon being temporarily closed for the use of emergency personnel. The fire was ignited on October 21, 2007, and was attributed to arsonists. It has burned over 27,000 acres (110 km2), and the cost of rebuilding is estimated to be $5.5 million.hly 220 homes in the canyon). Mandatory evacuations were issued prior to President George W. Bush declaring the site an emergency.

[Content taken from a Wikipedia entry]