Steep hike. The climbs are steep enough that coming down is delicate regardless of how sure-footed you are. Two false peaks will try to drain your resolve. Half mile to the summit is a bit of a bushwhack. Cliffs are another mile+ past the fork at the saddle before the summit. ATT LTE nearly the whole hike. Great to be away from crowds of hikers though. Budget 5 hours at least to hike the trail. Gate closed at 630pm on Sunday in October.

Did this hike today....would recommend to start as early as possible... if doing the hole hike we started at 5:30 am. but for sure next time at 4 am to not catch sun alot.. oh bring lots of water .... awesome hike and amazing views :).

Tough but REWARDING! Lots of undulation. Up!Down!Up...up....UP......down.......UP......
And then you have to get BACK! Pack a lunch.

difficult from an endurance standpoint. amazing workout and spectacular views! reserve energy for the hike back. hike on a cool/cold day as there is very little shade. bring lots of water (a few liters minimum per person) and bananas will help if you experience cramping. hiking poles and good tread shoes will be helpful as well. For me this is the toughest hike in the San diego area, but also the most rewarding. enjoy!

Brutal hike. Bring lots of water! Lots of incline and decline. Make sure your toe nails are cut! Trekking poles are super helpful. Can't wait to be back. The view was amazing!

More incline-decline than anything. Pretty view, good workout, but not super exciting.

Hiked this in JUL/AUG.. Loved this hike because it was a challenge! It was a major workout... The steep and rocky inclines and declines were throughout so it was uphill basically both ways and a lot of rock climbing lol... Many people had a rough time.. Bring a lot of water and a snack... Enjoy the burn and reapply sunscreen frequently! You will fell accomplished after! Get there early!

Closed until 9/1/16

Hiked this for the first time today. Lots of incline-decline. Didn't get all the way to the top, hit with a little heat stroke. Definitely bring lots of water, and take advantage of the shade where you can get it. Beautiful views and a really quiet trail, breeze is nice towards the top.

This has got to be the toughest hike in all of San Diego County. The trail is steep and provides little to no shade, so nothing less than 3 liters of water is recommended. Awesome views when you get to the top.

Hard!!! Read the review and follow the advice!

3 months ago

I started with three liters of water. I thought it a grand idea to jog when possible and hike quickly up the assents. I made the mistake of bringing too little water and no snacks. This is a serious hike! Do not take this lightly. It was 90 degrees during my hike so I was losing a lot of water and electrolytes. My advice would be to bring bananas, clementines, nuts, and plenty of water. I ended up drinking 6 pints during the 4 hour and 45 minute hike. I think I made pretty good time but my ass was surely kicked. A great trail for those looking for a seriously challenging hike that also offers amazing views.

Tough to rate a hike with a simple 5 star rating, but here are my thoughts on the difficult El Cajon Mountain Trail:

Difficulty: 5/5
Definitely the most difficult hike we've done. The elevation gain in both directions combined with the distance length was a real killer. This was not a simple out and back trail. The elevation changes in both directions make the hike out a slow grind while the hike back is full of challenging, slow downhill stretches mixed with psychological demoralizing uphill portions.

Shade: 1/5
There are few areas to take a break in the shade. Make sure to plan for a 5+ hour hike!

Risk vs Reward: 2/5
We've been on some shorter, more epic hikes when it comes to the view and feeling of accomplishment at the peak. This trail was full of the same view of local hills and their rocky terrain. Peak had panoramic views, but they were similar to everything around it! Entire trail was a combination of up/down that all looked the same.

Random notes:
-Trail was clean and relatively wide most of the way. A few washed out areas, but that's nature!
-Parking lot should open before 8am, as a lot of early bird cars were parked on the side of the road.

Final say: super challenging, but "boring" hike when it came to views and change of scenery.

Challenging hike! Would recommend extra water on a warm day.

3 months ago

I did this trail this morning for the first time. Shouldn't have done it solo for starters. I don't have much hiking experience but I'm in good shape so figured it would be cake! let me tell you this kicked my butt! Here's some things I'd do different: I would take more water!! Id recommend a camelback. I started out at about 9 AM--way too late since there's not much shade on the trail and it heats up quick out there. I used this app to make sure I stayed on the trail. No cell service at the top, so I got lost. The trail gets hard to follow close to the summit. I'd def do it again but on a cooler day! Check the weather :)