Explore Stage Three - 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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Did it on 11/17/18 very nice weather just a bit chilly at times .

This was the second time I've done this trail and it's great. I wouldnt say it's extremely difficult like some others. If you're even remotely in decent shape, it's moderate to hard. I will admit there's the last bit before the peak that goes straight uphill and kicks your ass....You know when you're a teenager and that one kid goes "I'm gonna take the shortcut" and runs straight up hill. That's what that part feels like. Not long but right when you scream out "when will this end?!" you're at the peak. The view is amazing and if you get a clear enough day you can see straight to Malibu. Of course the fires are currently happening so visibility wasn't the best but Long Beach was still visible.

The rest of the hike is definitely moderate, just a little long. My recording has gotten 9.6 miles both times I've done this hike. Bring lots of water, a lunch for the top and sign the trail log. The candy store at the bottom is a great spot to pick up an adventure pass or last minute things, $10 minimum if you're using a card.

Last thing is to make sure you know which way at each junction. There's several four or five way junctions and the last little trail off to the peak could be easy to miss. I took screenshots of another hikers play by play directions.

Such a sweet hike with some breath taking views right in our back yard... you get to feel disconnected from everything as if you were in Julian. That last part to get to the top gets a little tricky since it’s covered in bushes and the trail markers don’t start until you get to the rock of the summit.... the old mines and Jeep are some super cool things to check out to keep your mind distracted on your way up! I usually don’t take water but thought I should for this one and even then was really thirsty at the end after downing two liters... stay hydrated and enjoy the views!!

Great views and great workout both ways

Spectacular views. Can be hard for folks who take time in adjusting to altitude low pressure at 10k ft

hiking
7 days ago

Saturday, 11/10/2018 completed The Warrior Challenge Hike supporting our Veterans Day 2018. Triumph at El Cajon Peak, signed the official Peak Log and located all 3 Geological Benchmarks. Tallied up 11.39 RT mileage and 3,936’ total elevation gains gains. 2nd time hiking the El Capitan Preserve and only made it El Capitan Peak back on 12/22/2013. 5-years later, 60-lbs lighter I now have sense of accomplishment being this is labeled the hardest hike in the entire San Diego County! So steep with numerous peaks and valleys to trek through I developed cramps again but all worth it at the end!

Great 10 mile hike!! I found this mountain to be very hard in the sense that is none stop up hill and down hill from beginning to end. It was a challenge!!! You definitely need plenty of water and snacks to replenish your energy.

Best bang for your one day hiking buck! Well marked informative mileage signs with elevation profiles. Only out and back trail in SD County that is up hill in both directions.

Fantastic hike!!!! One of the best that I have accomplished this year. It is 11.4 miles, not 13, but if you don't like going down hill, the last 2.5 miles will feel like 5 miles. As others have said it is that first (and last) 2.5 miles that are the steepest. The middle is relatively easy (if you are used to big hikes) while the switchbacks make the last mile quite doable. Very pretty, no steep drop offs, lots to look at, the rock and tree formations are fantastic. The Forest Service office in Idyllwild opens at 8 but you can also get a permit in the outdoor kiosk.

A hard trail. I went in from the Tenaja trailhead,through Fisherman's camp, up Bluewater Pass to Oak Flats and then onto the truck trail to the peak. This route is tough, lots of brush bashing and Bluewater Pass is steep. Oak flats is gorgeous and this route is rarely traveled. I would not recommend this route to anyone but a seasoned hiker that does not mind brush bashing, hard to follow trails, and poison oak. It's a long day in and out. If you can get past those things it's a great hike, planning to do this one again in November 2018.

Very nice!

we started at 7am, when the sun was nice and finished by 1pm, around 11am the sun killed us, we consumed much more water and stoped more often to rest. 2.5 - 3 liters of water was enough! :) start early, finish before the sun is up!! great hiking!

My girlfriends and I did this hike at 6am and we were back in the car by 11am. it was foggy when we reached the top so we couldn't enjoy the view. It was also freezing cold so we headed back down. It was a great work out for all of us and will definitely come back again.

hiking
27 days ago

My friend and I hiked this Saturday starting at 9:15am. It was during the October Santa Ana and now I know why I won't be hiking it in the summer months. It can get pretty hot.
We wanted to have a fun hiking distraction while hiking down so we created names for each of the steep sections that were challenging enough for worthy mention. Here are the names in descending order from the top...
1. Summit
2. Jalopy
3. Tater Tots
4. Feather Duster
5. Hey what?! WTF?!?!
6. Sarah's Song
7. Sugar, please
8. Eggsellent
9. Deadwood
10. Tardy to the Party
11. #11 (we didn't think of one)
12. Knee Break
13. Lifted Spirits
14. Beer, please

See if you can figure out why we named them!

A perfect hike that is a test of endurance rather than being a hard technical climb. The path is clear allowing for a hands free ascent. It took about 4.5 hours, if you time it right, the sunset over the coast is spectacular.

Moderate to easy until the climb to the peak. That is Hard but the view at the top is great.

Great hiking, with amazing views.

Really beautiful and fun trail. My GPS app clocked it at 10.32, so pretty much exactly the length stated. I would call it moderate until the last climb to the top. Definitely would recommend poles for that part. The views are beautiful the entire way up. We started at 7:30 a.m. on a Sunday and only ran into a few other groups. Keep in mind that the trailhead is on the same side of the road as the candy store, across the street from the parking lot.

CLOSED UNTIL SEPTEMBER 2019 DUE TO WILDFIRES

Beautiful views, though physically challenging. Hiked the trail last Saturday. Went through five liters of water.

This is known as the shortcut to the cactus to clouds but it’s still pretty intense. I loved the scenery on this hike. I did this one about a month ago (early September) and it was about 100 degrees in Palm Springs but it’s about 30 degrees cooler at the top of the tram in the park so pack accordingly. I tried to get a ticket for the tram on the website but they were out so I just showed up 30 mins before the first tram at 8am and was able to get a ticket no problem. The hike is pretty easy to follow and shaded most of the way so it helps. The last 10th of a mile requires some scrambling but nothing too crazy.

Overall a good experience.

Great hike, very worth it. The climb to Little Round Valley is the hardest part. After the valley, the final assent isn’t much farther or as hard.

If you approach the highest point from directly below, there’s an easy boulder problem ;)

It was a good hike. Definitely not hard until the last part leading up to the summit. The views at the top were really cool.

Trailhead difficult to find, completely exposed the whole way up, first three miles moderate, last 2 miles strenuous.

Ok, this is a no-joke trail! There are ups and downs the entire time - most hikes you get to the top and it's all downhill on the way home - NOT this one! It is especially a hard one if it's hot like it was today. Bring more water than you think you'll need. The signage here is GREAT! you cannot get lost - especially at the top where they were every few feet leading you to the VERY top. Awesome views!

New favorite peak in Southern California. Took seven hours round trip including 45 m. at the peak. Beautiful.

Love this trail! Very hard try and go super early because it gets hot. One of the things I Noticed is that couple times I saw glass by where the parking is. The last time I was there they broke my rear window just to steal my backpack with nothing of value.
Shady people , just be careful

September 18th: This hike was gorgeous and challenging. I underestimated it and took only 2 liters of water. I ran out about halfway back to my car, and by the time I got fluids I was very ill. I want to reiterate a previous poster's suggestion - take at least 3 liters!! Amazing views at the top, well worth the hard work.

Disagree with many of the reviews in terms of difficulty. I found this extremely difficult. The trail goes on and on and on and on. I just summited Mount San Antonio twice (Baldy) + Baden-Powell, and this trail kicked my butt just much harder. I don't know about it being 10 miles either...felt like 20! Never been out on the trail, and wanted to call the Starship Enterprise "Beam me up Scottie". Just reading some of the reviews before I hit the trail about it being moderate is a misnomer.

I wish someone would have posted the truth...this is a difficult hike. This way mentally I would have been prepared and knew what I was in for instead of expecthing this hike to be 'moderate'...moderate my @$$.

Steady grade that seems to go on forever, and the summit is STEEP. Then there is the part before the summit where your descending...well after you descend the summit and think it's all down hill from there...nope...your hiking back up, and THEN down again.

This is not an easy hike I don't care what anyone says Be prepared for this hike because it's no joke. Bring trekking poles, and plenty of water.

View at the top was spectacular...well worth it!

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