Explore March 18th-19th - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

March 18th-19th Map
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nice day hike. don't be intimidated of the rope assisted descent it's worth the effort.
some poison oak along trail but easily avoidable

Fairly easy hike except near the falls with steep descents that were too tough for young kids. Majority of hike was pretty and trail was well maintained.

Beautiful walk and waterfall.

Beautiful hike with a lot of lush growth and some wildflowers! Nice payoff at the end with the waterfall. You can access the top of the falls and also the bottom via an old rope to aid you in getting back up. Be careful! Bring lots of water

walking
5 days ago

Beautiful trail!

Absolutely beautiful hike with views in every direction. Parking is crappy with room for only 5 or so cars so go early. there is tremendous variety of terrain from boulders to forrest overhang. it's definitely the prettiest hike I have done yet. we passed a few people but we were the only ones at the top, I actually cried! bring a lot of water. I have a 1.5l pack and it wasn't enough. I was happy that my husband had a 3l. be super careful if you are on the path in what I have now deemed "snake o'clock". when we turned the corner from behind a boulder there was one that was half in the path. we backed away and went over another boulder to avoid it. we warned everyone that we saw on the way down but there was a deaf couple on the hike heading in when we were heading out....I was scared for them. all in all it was very scenic and definitely challenging even just in the length alone. highly recommend!

walking
8 days ago

Short walk to great views.

Beautiful views, perfect spot to watch the sunset!

fun and easy "hike", it's really walking down a dirt road to the castle. The views of the horizon from the castle are amazing. I would def do it again, but be warned it is easy and super short.

This hike was great although I decided to hike in the afternoon... in June... with no clouds in sight! There are a few patches of shade but once in the gulch it's pretty much sun all the way. it was about 2.3 miles in to the falls so 4.6 round trip. I did it in 2 hrs and 6 min not including the short time i rested at the falls. Overall a pretty easy hike with a few inclines that make you dig in and push. Once you see the falls the fork will come up quick to a steep decent which a portion has a rope for you to use to hold on to. I wouldn't recommend it to the faint of heart, any timid beginners, elderly, people in improper hiking footwear or young children. there was water but the falls weren't magnificent. I'll definitely have to come back after a rainy day!

We have been back each week & enjoyed seeing the lovely advance of spring with the tiny alpine flowers for the past 6 weeks. The mallards now are raising their broods on little Laguna lake. As are the Red Wings. We really enjoy the peace & beauty of this trail.

Trail is open, checked it out yesterday and spotted a bear as an FYI. According to another hiker it is a mother who also has a cub

Awesome hike!

hiking
16 days ago

Pretty cool and easy hike if you want to take your kiddos. The down side about this hike is that you can’t take your dog. Also, watch your step because I came across with two rattle snakes on my way up.

Trail isnt maintained very well but was really not too much of a hinderance. I walk in shorts and apart from brushing a few branches was otherwise unscathed. Trail was really easy to follow and the waterfall and views back across the canyon were well worth the climb in height. I hiked starting at 3pm and there were a good few parts in the shade as well as the sun which provided a good mix.

I did this hike for the first time on 5/27/18 and REALLY enjoyed the hike. This is definitely not a "Hard" hike and should be considered "Moderate" since there are some steep parts but there are just as many level or mild incline parts so it doesn't kick your butt too much. I did this as part of the Tardigrade Tough 8 Challenge which comprises 8 of the hardest hikes in the San Diego area. If you are interested follow @tt8challenge and/or @resilientsquad on Instagram.

Here are the main details of the hike:
Name: Corte Madera in Alpine, CA (east of San Diego)
Distance: 7 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,500 ft
Elevation at Peak: 4,657 ft.
Duration: 3-4 hrs
Difficulty: Moderate

*I used the directions from the All Trails App...basically the 8 East to Exit 51 Buckman Springs Rd, turn right and in 3.3 miles you will turn right on a small side road named Morena Stokes Valley Rd which is a narrow somewhat paved/dirt bumpy road and in 4.8 miles you will see a green metal gate with a red cross on it...parking for about 5 or 6 cars on the left of the road and the hike starts at the metal gate

We arrived at 6:15 am and we were the first to park in the parking area. We saw no one on our way to the peak and saw less than 10 people on our return from the peak. I really enjoy hikes where there are little to no people and there are no sounds of cars or noises except for nature.

For the first .7 miles of the hike you are on an access road lined with oaks provided cover until you reach a metal garbage can with a wooden sign that says Espinosa Trail on the left, this is the way you need to go and you will now be on a narrow single file trail.

At 1.5 miles you will come to an official metal sign which indicates Los Pinos Peak to the left and Espinosa Trail straight, just below this sign is a handmade looking wooden sign with "Corte Madera Mt" and an arrow pointing to the right...follow this sign.

At 1.9 miles you will see an official sign indicating you are entering a nesting area for birds of prey with a wooden handmade sign pointing the way to "CM" and an arrow...follow this sign.

At about 2.6 miles you will see the destination off to your left and you will see why it is called by some the San Diego Half Dome. The final .9 miles to the peak will curve around to the left and you will make a half circle to the peak when you reach about 3.4 to 3.5 total miles. There was no sign at the peak but there was a green metal container with the name and elevation on it.

There is a variation to the scenery on this trail with some shaded and some exposed areas and some cool rocks and there was a nice variety of colors (green, yellow, and violet), but most importantly were the great views at the top. On the day we hiked it was misting in the beginning and lots of fog/low clouds, but by the time we got within a mile from the top we had hiked high enough to be above the clouds and it was clear and beautiful up there. It is definitely worth the drive to do this hike and I highly recommend it.

Had a great hike there, first mile or so is shaded, after that be prepared to hike exposed to direct sun. We actually camped overnight at the campsite a mile past the waterfall. Great secluded campsite just be extra careful did come across a rattle snake on side of trail...

great hike, even with my 4 and 6yo. switchbacks make the ascent easy and the views are spectacular. watch out for rattlers!

Trail is open, but looks very different. Jeep road is good but following the creek is a new landscape post debris flow.

By far the best hike I've done in San Diego! Great views, lots of flowers butterflies and birds. And most of all very few people. I highly recommend it.

Cool old structure, not really a trail more just a dirt road. With ease of access the Castles is filled with instagram models and littered with plastic Starbucks cups and straws.

hiking
23 days ago

Hiked all the way to the Chumash trail and back. It turned out to be 8 miles for me. Great views once it cleared up. Got there at 5:30am on a Saturday and there was quite a few cars parked already. There more parking across the bridge.

It’s a long but beautiful hike. It’s super green and clear. I’m going to say this is a moderate hike only because it’s long but to be honest it wasn’t difficult at all. The views are amazing!!! Prob my fav hike thus far!!!!

Great Easy-Medium hike for most. Completed the 5.4 mile trek this morning starting at 0600-ish. Did not see a soul on full hike. About Hike: $10.00 parking, self pay & park if you go early. Initial incline at start is a good breather, short lived, then easy-peasy switchbacks to peak. Love the view, trail is great, but narrow, will not go during peak hiking crowds, I amagine the stop and go, give way, and Good mornings..will become tiresome possibly. Intend to hike next time pre sunrise with head lamp to scare myself with the epic creepy dead trees and (I bet) shadows...Boo! Back side mountain return is a must for joggers to not worry about front-end congestion. Although drive not fun to get there, well worth the hike..Will go again and again

I loved this trail! A little of everything, and breathtaking views. The dirt road to the trail head was longer than I expected. We were privileged to catch a bald eagle in flight. I would recommend this trail for sure!

I really loved this hike and had no idea it was across the street from Paso Picacho! It’s definitely a new favorite in the area. Lots of blooms and taller vegetation even though this hasn’t been the wettest spring. My only WARNING is that I do not think this hike is entirely kid friendly. The hike itself is doable and well kept, but the top even with the rails would have made me very nervous if I had brought my wild 6 year old with me. There are huge gaps between the rocks and rails and if you have a clumsy or defiant or careless child (which describes many children), they could easily fall from a great height. I don’t consider myself a helicopter parent and have no problem with taking some risks with children, but take a good look at the pictures of the top before you take your kids. I would, however, take my cautious 9 year old who I’m sure would absolutely love it. The top is quite breathtaking and I plan to go back often! But consider carefully what your children are capable of before you bring them!

28 days ago

i give this trail 5 stars but a little dangerous for kids .nice views! overall a beautiful trail . the only wird tging is thats the trail goes through a small town and i almost got bit by dog .

Great hike!

This was an excellent hike! The trail was easy enough for an adventurous 7 year-old, including the navigation down the rope-assisted section.
I would plan on spending an hour at the waterfall and just chillin with a snack, that way the crowds come and go in waves so you end up getting time alone.
Would highly recommend as a pretty easy hike!

hiking
1 month ago

This hike is amazing. The views go on as far as the eye can see. I felt like the further back on the trail I went the more beautiful the scenery was. Well worth the climb!

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