Explore San Diego Hikes - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

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Want something more exciting than cowls mountain this is a butt kicker. You will fill it in your calves and it’s not going out that’ll get you. The way Back feels never ending.It may be a short hike but it sure feels long. And once you get back the end of piles you have to go back down cowls but that’s easy. All for all it’s a great hike for intermediate hikers and adventurous people I like. Remember to take adamant water.

enjoyed it 12-9-18 not as crowded as Coweles will do it often although walking down the service road to reconnect with big rock can be dangerous

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!

Any trail is 5 stars! I just enjoy hiking!

We hiked this trail at night. Beautiful views....not too difficult.

So 1st part of this trail is just a steep but short hiking trail. The rest of it is for climbers only. While the visitors center heavily discourages bouldering and blazing your own trail, many have done it *cough cough for thrills, and at the top theres a cool circle of rocks that people have put together. You could get to the nearest peak from there, but again it requires trail blazing so be careful (snakes) and mindful (there are unofficial trails, but minimize your foot imprint and dont trample, also dont smoke ANYTHING) *not that I have smoked in mission trails, just seen it and it makes me shudder thinking of one cigarette butt or flying pipe ember can just set a whole place ablaze, so just dont!!!

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

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.

Good workout! My steepest trail yet in SD. Hiked up with my dog for the sunset and ran (mostly) down.

8 days ago

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

I thought this was okay. Nice people along the way, not too strenuous. Views were good but nothing breathtaking for me

Love it weather was great

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

at his south trail killed me going up the stairs!!!! someone said to me the stairway to heaven, it was to hell. I was dying my dog made it! he loved it!

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)

Went in late November, lots of pretty leaves and cool trees

Great hike got lost twice trying to find stairway to heaven.Don’t expect directions to it just follow directions to south Fortuna you will see the Stairs in the distance

hiking
16 days ago

Short but sweet! This is a fun trail that’s pretty technical. We went at 8:00am on Friday and only saw a few other hikers on the trail and a few rock climbers at the crest doing their thing. The trail is quite narrow though so if it was crowded I don’t think I would have enjoyed it much.

Great view at peak for watching SAN DIEGO’s downtown sunset .

This one was tough! But so good!!! Ive hiked maybe 20 times prior to this one but I am definitely a rookie when it comes to hikes. This one is very similar to Cowles in difficulty and workout. There are 2 ways to the top: 1. Straight up (shorter, steeper, more challenging) or 2. Switchbacks then you merge with the a real trail. We took the switchbacks on the way up and took the straight down steep route on the way down. I found myself naturally running down the hill but it can be dangerous because of the lose dirt so you gotta be careful.

Went with my son which made the hike that much harder

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

Nice hike - lots of different paths / erosion, but great views from top

Great training hike for other, more rigorous hikes. The trail gives you a great aerobic workout in a relatively short span. It can easily be combined with other trails such as North and South Fortuna. When combined with several other Mission Trails Regional Park trails or when doing the Five Peak Challenge, I begin with this one because it is steep in spots and can wear you down fast. If you haven't hiked this trail in the last five years, much maintenance has been done that has improved the overall quality of the trail.

This was challenging for me the first time. I am planning to do it again but I have been training. I saw cute flowers, insects and even a snake. I wasn't expecting very much water at the top but there was definitely water! Nice view too.

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