Hot Springs Mountain Trail is a 10.1 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Warner Springs, CA that offers scenic views and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, and birding and is accessible from March until November.
This is definitely one of the most beautiful hikes in San Diego. Lots of shade. Lots of forest. Easy terrain, but a good cardio workout. Gorgeous scenery and views at the top. Check the Los Coyotes Reservation website for parking details, etc.
Views are terrific, but do start at the campground. Tribal cops directed us to Hot Springs Mountain Road, which starts at 4000 feet near the entrance gate and is a 15.6 mile round trip slog.
Once again the directions to the trailhead supplied by alltrails were way off. We ended up passing the trailhead on a dirt road and getting a flat (something on the road slashed thru the sidewall). The trailhead is on the left once you enter the campground and its called "Rough Road". We just pulled off to the side for parking right in front of the trailhead gate. The first two miles are a little steep, but after that its not so bad. There are some wooded areas that offer full shade (a rarity in SD). A liitle bushwacking may be required to get to the peak, but the view is awesome. All around a great San Diego hike.
This is the tallest mountain in San Diego County. You start the hike from a campground on the Los Coyotes Indian Reservation. The day permit is around $15 for a couple, roughly on par with what some of the State Parks and National Forests charge. You pay at a building by a stop sign, and then drive for about 2.5 miles more down Camino San Ignacio before you reach the campground.
From the campground, the first two miles are some fairly steep switchbacks on a road wide enough for vehicles. It is completely exposed, and the slope is unrelenting. After those two miles, there are three more miles in forested areas, with well-established signs on the various paths that lead off of the "main" path. The slope tapers off considerably, but is still nearly all uphill. At the top, there are two hills, one with a fire lookout and one without. At the top, the views are amazing, although it was very windy. The hike down was much better, and although the final two miles are very steep, the footing was fine. All told, it was right at 10 miles roundtrip. It took 4 hours total, and there was no one else on the mountain.
Compared to other hikes in the area, I would rate this as good but not great. The trail itself is a dirt road as opposed to a narrow path, which has its pros and cons. The advantage is that you're not going to just happen upon a rattlesnake. The disadvantage is that it's harder to shade, and the two miles at the bottom are awfully exposed. It's nice having the area to yourself, as some trails (Mt Woodson especially) have tons of folks. The hike itself is not quite as strenuous as Mt Woodson, but is more difficult than the Conejos loop trail to the top of Cuyamaca Peak. But if you're training for something, this is a great workout. And the view at the top really is nice, with unimpeded views in 3 directions.