Corte Madera Mountain Trail is a 6.5 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Morena Village, CA that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
dogs on leash
The trail is great for hiking and normally takes a half day. Start off along an oak lined road and then take a left and head out through San Diego typical shrubbery. When you reach the main saddle you'll be rewarded with a spectacular view of Corte Madera Mountain, which some call San Diego's half dome. From there you'll head northwest along a dirt road and then branch off onto a single track trail. As you head up, you'll be rewarded with pine trees, granite boulders and wonderful views of the surrounding Cuyamaca and Laguna mountains. It can be cold in the winter, so make sure to layer. There is some shade on the trail so it might be good for hiking all year round. Take your time and enjoy the views! We didn't encounter a single person on the trail although it was close to snowing/raining the whole time so that may have been why.
Late post. Last month, June 18, 2016 I hiked Corte Madera Mountain Trail, San Diego's version of the infamous Yosemite Half-Dome. Racked up 7.53 RT miles on a warm dry day, the day before the border Tecate Fires. This was a cool hike, steep uphill hike all the way to the summit. I was pleased to see and sign the official peak log. After the 1st 1.5 miles on the trail, you come up to viewpoint and will be amazing at mountain. Good hike.
This one surprised us... quite the butt kicker for a regular hiker like me. It was like a mini El Capitan Preserve trail, with about half the elevation gain (206 floors according to Fitbit... El Capitan had 430 floors) with ups and down starting halfway through. Some real facts about the trail:
Difficulty: moderately hard
Distance (out and back): 7.32 miles
Elevation gain: 1457 ft
Landscape: Varies. Begins as a forest, then becomes brush desert, then mountain high brush desert.
Traffic: None. We were the only ones on the trail today.
Scenery: Really Really good for San Diego county. At first it isn't so much, but once you reach the crossroads where the trails split, it's great all the way to the top.
Quaintness: Epic. Not a soul nor sound of human civilization... Aside from the occasional airplane flying overhead.... :/
Flora and Fauna: Great! Lots of lizards and birds, especially birds of prey.
Note: all cars can get to trail... Part is dirt road. Just go slow.
What you NEED to bring:
- trail runners or hiking boots/shoes
- Lots of water and some snacks
- PANTS. This trail is narrow surrounded by high brush most of the way, some poison oak in shady areas
- If going in spring or summer, BUG SPRAY!!! Bugs, bugs EVERYWHERE (on some parts of trail, especially the beginning.)
What you COULD bring:
- trekking poles for those who need knee support
- Binoculars... Seriously... This is a GREAT hike for birdwatching raptors. I really wish I had brought mine.
- light jacket to avoid brush.
- nice camera for landscapes and selfies :P
I liked this hike a lot, and consider it one of the better ones in San Diego. If it wasn't so out of the way I would come here often. I will recommend people with a good fitness level to check out this hike.
4 stars for a good moderately long hike with great scenery for the area and varied landscape!
Started from the OHV parking. Added an extra 2 miles. Really beautiful and challenging hike. Great views at the summit.
Hit it at sunset. Made it to the top in an hour and a half. Then an hour to get back.
I love the view of the canyon down below. I went up with my 12 year old and he loved it
A great hike! Beautiful views & we enjoyed the changing terrain as you climb.
We completed this trail on May 28, 2015. Things to know:
- not crowded, reegardless of time of year.
- shaded more at the bottom with lots of trees ( there were a lot of pesky nats in the shade during the first 1-2 miles.
- Steep climbs during last 1-2 miles nearing summit. Its like climbing a steep staircase in some parts.
- Have to drive on a semi dirt road for a few miles from Buckman Spings before you get to the Trail Head.
- start on the Espinosa Trail and youll be headed in the right direction.
- the recorded track from our hike is titled Corte Madera Mountain 5/28/15
- the trailhead location on the recorded track is accurate.
- saw virtually no wild life, except for several large birds of prey all perched in the same Pine near top half of hike.
- i gave it five stars because of the remoteness and lack of crowds, the diversity of landscape, the length of the trail which i think is ideal, and the vertical challenges youll encounter along the way.
- the summit is not visible during the first couple of miles. Once you get over the initial ridge to where the trail splits youll get a good look at the stone face of the summit , which is rather spectacular.
Great hike. Went after raining the last 2 days, muddy in spots. Foggy and cold at the top but absolute serenity.
Great hike with amazing views at the top! Come here on a clear day and you can see far out! Bring water! Trail is easy to follow!
Great hike, look out for the two bald eagles! The were hanging out near the top on one of the last telephone poles you can see. It was amazing! Take lots of water for you and your fur friend, there is a lot of up up up. There are lots of breathtaking photo spots, you can see green hills for days. I'd definitely do this hike again.
Did this on a November morning. Beautiful weather, great scenery, and awesome views from the summit and along the way!
Make sure to get an adventure day pass to park in the area, and also pay good attention to markers others have left near the top. I got side tracked on another trail because I missed a ribbon tied to plants showing which trail was the summit one (it had great views too!)
Great trail! The terrain changes up quite a bit from forest, to chaparral, to rocky manzanita areas. I love this trail and cant wait to go back. Seems like not a lot of people know about this one. We saw only a couple hikers our whole trip.
This trail is amazing. Hands down one of the most fun I've ever hiked. Take plenty of water because it does get rather long. It is very secluded so hike with someone else just in case of emergency. Also watch out for ticks in the bushes.