Santa Ana Mountains
|Santa Ana Mountains|
San Mateo Canyon Wilderness, southern Santa Ana Mountains, April 2007.
|Elevation||5,689 ft (1,734 m)|
|Counties||Orange, Riverside and San Diego|
|Type of rock||metasedimentary|
The Santa Ana Mountains are a short peninsular mountain range along the coast of Southern California in the United States. They extend for approximately 36 mi (56 km) southeast of the Los Angeles Basin largely along the border between Orange and Riverside counties.
The range starts in the north with the Chino Hills, heading southeast of the Puente Hills. Its northern section is divided by Santa Ana Canyon, through which the Santa Ana River flows. Its northernmost summit, at 3,045 feet (928 m), is Sierra Peak. From there, the major summits are Pleasants Peak, 4,007 feet (1,221 m); Bedford Peak, 3,800 feet (1,200 m); and Bald Peak, 3,947 feet (1,203 m). The next two peaks, Modjeska, 5,496 feet (1,675 m); and Santiago, 5,689 feet (1,734 m), the highest summit in the range; form Saddleback Ridge. The Saddleback, located approximately 20 mi (32 km) east of Santa Ana, is visible from much of Southern California, and is usually the only part of the range high enough to be dusted with snow in winter storms.
South of Saddleback are Trabuco Peak, 4,604 feet (1,403 m); Los Pinos Peak, 4,510 feet (1,370 m); Elsinore Peak, 3,575 feet (1,090 m); Sitton Peak, 3,273 feet (998 m); Margarita Peak, 3,189 feet (972 m); and Redonda Mesa, 2,825 feet (861 m). The range ends roughly at the Santa Margarita River.
Most waterways draining the Santa Anas are ephemeral. The major streams rising from the range typically drain west into the Pacific Ocean, including the Santa Ana River and its tributaries and Santiago Creek, San Diego Creek, Aliso Creek, San Juan Creek, San Mateo Creek and Santa Margarita River. Water from the east side of the range empties into Lake Elsinore and when if it fills to overflowing, empties into Alberhill Creek then into Temescal Creek which is a tributary of the Santa Ana River.
Much of the range is within the Trabuco Ranger District of the Cleveland National Forest, although some parts are still owned by two century-old ranches: the Irvine Ranch (Originally known as the Yorba Family's Rancho Lomas de Santiago and Rancho Mission Viejo (Originally recorded as Rancho Misión Vieja). The Santa Margarita Mountains, a subrange of the Santa Anas also extends down to Camp Pendleton and Fallbrook.
The mountains include a subrange called the Elsinore Mountains. These include the mountains which are west of Lake Elsinore and are the lowest portion of the range. Elsinore Peak marks the highpoint of this area.
|This section requires expansion. (February 2008)|
The mountains were named by members of Gaspar de Portolà's expedition, who camped below the mountains on July 26, 1769, the Feast Day of Saint Anne. At the time of Portola's visit, the Santa Anas were settled by three main groups of indigenous peoples, the Tongva in the north, and the Acjachemen and Payomkowishum in the south.
A handful of historic sites remain in the range today. Registered California Historical Landmarks include an Indian Village Site in Black Star Canyon, Flores Peak, the mining boomtown sites of Carbondale and Silverado, and Helena Modjeska's home.
Natural resources 
As part of the California Floristic Province, the Santa Ana Mountains host a diverse array of plant species within distinctive natural (plant) communities, including Coastal Sage Scrub, Chaparral, Riparian Woodland, Southern Oak Woodland, Rocky Outcrop, Vernal Pool, Valley Grassland, and Closed-cone Montane Coniferous Forest. One of the southernmost stands of Madrones can be found in Trabuco Canyon. Groves of Knobcone Pine can be found around Pleasants Peak. Big-cone Douglas Fir and Coulter Pine can be found at the higher elevations. Rare flowers like the Intermediate Mariposa Lily, Heart-leaved Pitcher Sage (associated with the Tecate Cypress), and Chocolate Lily are difficult to find, but breathtaking to observe. Fragrant sages, broadleaf evergreen shrubs] and trees, perennial bunchgrasses, strange succulents (Dudleya spp.), and fire-following flowers adorn the rugged terrain.
A surprising variety of wildlife species can be found, including Mountain Lion, American Black Bear, Mule Deer, Bobcat, Coyote, Gray Fox, American Badger, Ring-tailed Cat, Spotted Skunk, Western Gray Squirrel, Long-tailed Weasel, Woodrat, Kangaroo Rat, Bats, Spotted Owl, Western Pond Turtle, Southern Steelhead Trout, Coast Horned Lizard, Least Bell's Vireo, Golden Eagle, Mountain Quail, Canyon Wren, Speckled Rattlesnake, Pacific Rattlesnake, Common Kingsnake, Gopher Snake, Arroyo toad, Western Spadefoot Toad, California tree frog, California Sister Butterfly, various Aphonopelma species of tarantula, and many more.
A number of minerals have been mined in the range, though none were very profitable. Commercial resources collected since the 1870s have included metals lead, silver, tin, and zinc, and minerals clay, coal, gypsum, and limestone. Parts of the range have been used to graze domestic livestock and harvest timber since the late 18th century. As the surrounding cities have grown, the water of the range's creeks has become a particularly valued resource.
The mountains form a natural barrier between the fast-growing Inland Empire region to the east and the job centers of Orange County to the west. Only one freeway, the Riverside Freeway (State Route 91), one tollway (State Route 241), and a narrow & winding mountain highway, the Ortega Highway (State Route 74), connect the regions. Highway 91, which follows the Santa Ana River through a pass between the Santa Ana Mountains on the south and the Chino Hills on the north, is one of California's most congested routes. Because of this, several proposals have been floated to dig a highway tunnel through the Santa Ana Mountains, although the multi-billion-dollar idea has drawn criticism from environmentalists and others concerned about cost and safety in the earthquake-prone region. While Highway 91 is one of the most congested routes in California, Highway 74 holds a more ominous claim to fame - one of the most dangerous highways in the state.
- Carol J. Stadum. "Geological History of Orange County". Irvine Valley College Department of Geological Sciences website. Retrieved 2008-02-21.
- "State of California: California's Coastal Mountains". Retrieved 2002-08-08.
- "RP 1". NGS data sheet. U.S. National Geodetic Survey. Retrieved 2009-07-16.
- "California Rivers Assessment Interactive Web Database". UC Davis Information Center for the Environment. Retrieved 2008-02-21.
- Brigandi, Phil (2006). Orange County place names, A to Z. San Diego: Sunbelt Publications.
- McCawley, William (1996) . The First Angelinos: The Gabrielino Indians of Los Angeles (Paperback ed.). Malki Museum Press/Ballena Press. ISBN 0-9651016-0-6.
- "California Historical Landmarks: Orange County". California State Parks Office of Historical Preservation website. Retrieved 2008-02-21.
- Orange County - 1889 to 1909
- "History of the Cleveland National Forest". Cleveland National Forest website. Retrieved 2008-02-21.
- Weikel, Dan (2001-08-11). "Driving a Deadly Dinosaur". LA Times A Tribune Newspaper website. Retrieved 2010-09-21.
- The Nature Conservancy: Santa Ana Mountains
- Santa Ana Mountains Wild Heritage Project
- Naturalist For You
- Cleveland National Forest
- Center For Biological Diversity
- Santa Ana Mountains Natural History AssociationCoordinates:
||Orange County & I5||Santa Ana River||Corona|
|San Juan Capistrano & Pacific Ocean||Temescal Valley & Lake Elsinore|
|Pacific Ocean & Camp Pendleton||Santa Margarita River||Temecula & Murrieta|