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This hike is definitely worth it. It’s also worth paying the $10 to park. They have excellent, well maintained facilities at the lake, and the trail is also very well maintained. If you are a trail runner this is ideal because the path is relatively smooth and even for the first stretch, then when it gets steep there are rock stairs or rock gardens. There was not one place that was sketchy to navigate.

I’d call this a moderate hike because while somewhat long and a bit a steep at places, you never question your life or abilities. Hard hikes, I think, should have you second-guessing your ability to complete them. This hike never required any thought. It was smooth.

Also, I thought I’d be showing up “late” when I started about 7:45am on Sunday, 12/9. It wasn’t crowded at all and I had long stretches to myself. There were a few groups going up but not too many. And while I didn’t take a picture, there was no line do so. Definitely more people on the way down (coming up), but there were a few large groups. Bottom line, don’t stress if you are not there at sunrise, you can still get some alone time in. And there’s a lot of shade in the morning. It took me about 1:20 to get up and 50 minutes to come down, and I ran part of the way down.

If you need a hike to really kick your ass, try El Cajon Mountain. Even if you don’t go the full 11 miles, it is challenging and up hill both ways!

This was actually 6 miles. No water in the falls, but as everyone else has stated, still worth the hike. It’s just beautiful at the pool!

This is actually a 6 mile loop well maintained trail. The water was barely flowing from the top of the waterfall but the bottom reservoir was full. The landscape of the waterfall was simply beautifully and well worth the hike.

Trail was well maintained and the folks up front checking permits were so helpful and friendly. It heated up on the way back which was close to noon in December, so bring plenty of water as they recommend. It was more or less a hike through the desert. Overall a good work out. I was told snakes were around, I didn’t see any (amen).

Several things I love.
1) Typically not crowded
2) Many paths to each peak which offer their own delights
3) tons of thriving vegetation and wildlife
4) Some paths can be a bit of a challenge and leg burner
5) Some pretty cool hangout spots along the way that are peaceful and secluded

Downer: at times south fortuna is crowded at stairs, luckily several paths and theres north fortuna, significantly less crowded.

I once hiked down North Fortuna after dark without a headlamp, by myself, with several paths intersecting. DONT DO THAT scary as heck.

oh, leave a gift of poetry at North Fortuna too

great for learners, or getting back into shape, or just getting better. great view of San Diego, beautiful sunsets. Easily accessible. pleanty of parking, and places the eat nearby. Downfall is it's often crowded, people think theres maintaneance to pick up their already bagged dog poo and bust leave it on the trail (stupid!) theres zero shade (sucks in the summer), and natural vegetation suffers from frequent human activity (comparing to the rest of mission trails, even during the dry season theres still some green, but hardly on Cowels) a pro to that, is less wildlife (snakes in particular)

Definitely a good hike that wears you out on the way up....as long as you hike the side starting at the lake. Will definitely hike again soon.

7 days ago

I did this hike several times and enjoyed it very much. Assess from all four different directions.

Nicely managed hiking trail but will have to keep your dog on leash the entire time. Updated note that contradicts the recreation.gov website is that you do not have to bring a print out of your permit if you have the digital version. They accept digital permits, they just haven’t updated their website to reflect the change yet. Happy trails!

Nice hike up with combo of mild-moderate inclines, flat areas to recover, and rewarding views at the top. It didn’t feel crowded with people/dogs to the point that it slowed me down. I didn’t bring my dog because of some stories I heard about overheating, wildlife issues, and fights with other dogs. I guess I could see a fight occur where the trail is tighter in spots (same way up/down) and dogs would come in contact with each other. That said, all dogs were well behaved when I was there and the trail was impeccably clean.

monster workout. great views. facilities at the bottom. The description and all trails is incorrect it is closer to 8 Miles not 6.9

The feeling when you reach the peak after climbing the stairs is pretty great

one of the first hikes I've done best hike I've done. easier and easier as I go. running down is always the best. had 1 time where I saw a baby rattlesnake but other than that it was good lots of foot traffic but amazing hike.

Awesome workout. Great view. I recommend ample water, a snack for the top and a lite packable wind jacket for nov/dec/jan/ feb - stairs were awesome, but trail is best on a weekday morning ( less people)

hiking
12 days ago

There’s a bathroom and fountain (including doggie fountain) at the Tamarack Ave trailhead. Not many a lot of places within the trail to throw out dog waste bags so you may have to walk around with them for a bit. It is kind of easy to get lost, not many signs, but over all a good easy hike.
**depending on the route you take to the peak there are some semi steep inclines and declines, would suggest hiking boots if you have them**

Beautiful scenery! More forested and green than most places in San Diego County. Like all of these trails, the difficulty is very relative. I would rate this as moderate myself. By comparison, El Cajon Mountain or Twin Peaks up north are far more difficult than this. The incline is fairly gradual and pretty much out of the way after the first 2 miles. We went on a Sunday and no one was at the ranger station nor the campground itself. There was a phone number posted at the ranger station, which I called. Two rangers came down and checked us in and took our payment. One more thing: the main recording here only goes to the lookout. You need to follow the trail to the right of the turnout to get to the peak. Enjoy!

The first 3 miles is down hill (easy), but heading back is challenging. I recommend bringing your hiking poles. The waterfall is currently dry, but the bowl still has water. Lots of fresh animal dropping, so be alert and careful. We started at 7:15, started to warm up after that so bring plenty of water and sunblock.

The waterfall is worth it. Pack for a picnic!

hiking
15 days ago

I know I'm biased but this is one of my favorites! Yes it can get busy but nothing like Torrey Pines. The views up top are gorgeous and every time Ive been there everyone is considerate and friendly. Ive been at 6am as well as 10pm. Previous reviewers mention being courteous with head/flash lights because some of us do much better with night hikes in the moon light.

Definitely take water. If you go during sunmy hours there is no shade throughout the hike so plan accordingly (hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, etc). I am definitely a "slow but steady" hiker and it takes me about 1 hr to the top and about 40 mins down.

on Lake Calavera

hiking
15 days ago

Recommend early morning or late afternoon as there is no shade and not much to see.

Excellent workout, we did the shorter trail; it was hard but definitely worth it!
Highly recommended.
D

Good workout, decent views for so close to downtown SD. Pretty boulders and stairs to climb. VERY crowded.

PERMIT REQUIRED BEFORE HIKING!
Visit RECREATION.GOV. Didn’t know about the permit but it was still a great well maintained hike! Trees were different colors and looked beautiful along hike! Loved it!!

Great trail. Walked with my 10 years old daughter and her friend. Good walk out.

20 days ago

my son, granddaughter and I had a wonderful time exploring the trails and area. trails were easy to navigate, steep near the volcano

Good Long trail steady climb. And obviously the awesome photo opp at the end

21 days ago

The trail is in great condition for the 3.5 miles we hiked (7 mile round trip). Lovely views of Temecula Valley and Vail Lake as we came back down to the campground.

Beautiful wilderness area. Lightly trafficked. Takes between 4-5 hours to complete. Bring 6-8 liters of water and 2,000-3,000 calories.if summiting in winter bring emergency blankets in case you need to bivy at the top.

Morning and daytime (during cooler weather) hikes here can be extremely busy! I go at night (bring head gear or hand flashlight). When using a flashlight at night please be mindful of either sticking your beam on the trail or just turn it off until they pass (some hikers prefer using the natural moonlight). Don't shine it in their eyes! It's rude and unsafe. Once at the summit, incredible views!

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