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Beautiful hike, but do it early to beat the heat and the crowds!

My girlfriend and I did this hike on Monday (12/3), and it totally kicked our butts!

We had originally planned on just going up to Columbia Rock and back. But after making it up in just 45 minutes, and with it being such a nice day, we decided to push forward and see how far we could make it up to the top.

This ended up being an incredible idea, as we encountered only three or four other hikers on our way up, and the views from the overlook were truly unforgettable!
However, in the deep snow (over a foot in places), the zig-zagging back and forth through the switchbacks made me question our decision at times …

But this is a truly incredible hike with breathtaking views of Half Dome and the Upper Falls leading up to the summit.

CAUTION: Make sure you are cognizant of your surroundings (i.e. falling ice), as there were some massive chunks that came cascading down the mountain side and landed within an arm's reach of us.

The climb to the top is absolutely worth it though, just be prepared to feel that 3,100 feet-plus of elevation gain on your way up.

We thoroughly enjoyed this hike for its solitude, challenge and beauty. Would love to come back in the summertime when the falls are gushing!

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!

Good stuff

Fun trail and hike with good views. It's a pretty easy hike if you do any real hiking.

So much better than just taking the fire road. I'd actually suggest doing an out and back on the recommended start to the route so you only do the paved part at the end. Be prepared for some very narrow trails that get pretty rocky (loose in some areas).

hiking
4 days ago

Beautiful view! People of all ages can do this one. It's the perfect hike as part of a day trip. Swing by Julian after for apple pie and cider.

Awesome hike! I completed it yesterday 12/6/18. The last third of the trail gets quite slippery with hard packed snow. I put my microspikes on at the lookout at the top, but should have put them on sooner. The final path down to the lookout is very exposed and covered in loose sheets of snow and ice, though the metal railing made it passable. I was grateful for gloves, as well as sunglasses and sunscreen - the snow glare was bright. I continued another .8 miles past the falls to Yosemite Point - it was a great view but a lot of trouble (deep snow) to get there. If you aren't up for it, you can still take the short walk out that way to the wooden bridge. It's picturesque :)

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.

9/10/18
I enjoyed this hike very much! Easy, fun switchbacks, well maintained trail, however lots of hikers on the weekend. Astonishing views at the top of the summit! The space at the top is very small and can get crowded quickly. My guy and I did a quick walk thru than found a quiet spot on a rock away from the crowd to enjoy our view and snack. Please be mindful to share the space at the top of the summit for others to also enjoy the beautiful view. No need for you to hang out there 20min to talk about BS as others are coming thru. And please keep your dog on a leash. Parking $10 Paso Picacho Picnic abs Campground.

I did the loop, and I really liked it! The first part was a rocky trail with lots of great foliage and views. There were a couple of downed trees but I was able to climb over them pretty easily. The top isn’t really that great because there is a bunch of construction equipment and I went pretty early so it was windy. I took the paved path back and it was really easy. I’d definitely recommend doing the loop because the first part had the best views, IMO. Enjoyable, and in the easy to moderate range.

Note that there is a $10 state park day fee to park.

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

i love the trail, it is a little bit hard but the view is amazing

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!

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

This was a fun and diverse trail! We started up the fire road and about two thirds of the way up we were in the clouds. It was magical! A good handful of hikers complained about not having the right clothing as the weather from the base to the summit was drastically different. We took the Azalea Glen Loop trail down. I was looking forward to some trail running down but the trail was too rocky and unstable; I would go up Azalea Glen Loop and down the fire road if I were to do it again.

It’s nice to run down the trail and walk back up.

We completed part of this trail on July 25, 2018 before our mandatory evacuation due to fires. We had to be out of the park by 9:00 so we knew we had to start early and hike fast. Due to the early evacuation, we were the only hikers on the trail. We moved as fast as we could in order to see as much as possible. The switchbacks definitely get the heart rate up and I went through quite a bit of water and the sun wasn’t even out. The steps were dusty and dry, but very slippery at times. Start early and bring plenty of water! Even though our hike was cut short due to the mandatory evacuation, this was my favorite hike!

Great hike! Then head into Julian for lunch

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

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.

Spectacular views.

Short and sweet hike to the top. I have done this 3 or 4 times from either trailhead. Can be slippery after a recent rain because the trail can get steep in some spots near the top. Fun to do at night!

Dogs are only allowed on the fire road and it is an all uphill paved path this way. Awesome views at the top!

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

Well maintained trail. Lots to explore at the top so the whole hike took this 58 yr old 9 hours. In November, with only 10 hours of daylight, it was essential to start early. Thrilling cliffs and vistas. Loved having good boots and hiking poles. So did my 27 and 30 yr old daughters. But we saw others in tennis shoes and even hiking sandals!

Elevation, all the way!!! it's a nice hike, went by fast, easier running down than going up, but it was great!

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

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