Explore To do - 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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Such an amazing hike! If youre unsure of where to go there is a friendly staff at the nature center that offers you maps of all the trails available with their level of difficulty. The trails are clean and it is such a great way to spend a day out.

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

great trail. good elevatipn. great views. cant get lost either.

a lot of people, met a barefoot hiker who is cool. not too many people would stop and talk though.

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!

hiking
4 days ago

Burned our.

hiking
5 days ago

Great day hike with my young Cub Scout

hiking
8 days ago

Great short hike. We did the loop walking down through the slot first and the up the hill and along the ridge on the road. The slot is really fun!

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.

CLOSED: Went up there today to see what condition it was in. The park ranger told me it would be closed for about another week, as the threat of mudslides is too great with forthcoming weather and downed trees that need to be removed from the trail.

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

This is a good trail for escaping the city and heat during the summer and getting a workout on the process.
Pros: lots of shade, pretty foliage around you, wide and well-maintained trail and ends at a lively waterfall.
Cons: paid parking (or adventure pass or nfs pass) and CROWDED. Lots and lots of people, which means parking is more and more difficult and you run into large, organized groups of hikers.

Overall, this is a great getaway for the day, but don't expect peace and quiet or a difficult workout; go for the shade, stroll and waterfall views.

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.

hiking
13 days ago

DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THE SNOW! This hike is rated easy, but it gets really hard with the snow. There’s a lot of icy patches and snow on the side. There is a very very narrow path leading to the first mine and another one after the first mine. I was basically hugging the side of the mountain. Not recommended for kids right now. Please wear hiking boots or chains on your shoes! I made it to the first mine, but I was unable to continue cause I was wearing the wrong shoes. I will be back to finish this hike once I get the right shoes!!!

off road driving
13 days ago

Great hike through an amazing landscape. The trail is quite easy to follow once you arrive in the parking lot.
The drive up the dusty road from the 78 is easy enough that 4wd is not required at all. A buddy of mine drove up in a Scion XB and had no trouble. Just be mindful of the patchy sand and be sure to stay on the designated road at all times.
This hike is well worth the trip. Best time to visit is November-April so that the heat isn't so bad.

hiking
15 days ago

Trail was heavily trafficked. Hikers were playing music with no respect to others around them. People brought aggressive dogs on the trail which bit other dogs and people did not clean up after their dogs. A man smoked his cigarette where the group of other hikers were hanging out... disgusting. If you hike for the instagram photo this is one for you. If you like to hike to be one with nature... pick a different trail.

Good hike and great scenic views. I could feel the oxygen start to thinner out on my way up. I shouldnt have hiked alone but no one would dare go with me especially at a high level. Be careful when climbing up the rocks as they start to be slippery with ice building up. Overall it was worth it.

Did it on 11/17 and had perfect weather!! Chilly up top, slight breeze but I still had a T-shirt on.

18 days ago

Does any one can tell me what time is this open ? Thanks !!

hiking
18 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.

Nice easy trail to follow with an awesome view. Start early and be prepared for crowds since it’s a short hike. Dress in layers if you’re going during cooler windier weather. We went during some Santa Ana winds and definitely felt the wind chill. Pack a lunch and enjoy the view from the mine.

The mine is also cool to check out, but make sure you have a headlamp. Be careful of low clearances in the mine.

hiking
19 days ago

I love this hike, however, today there was a man on a mountain bike with a machete clearing a hiking trail so they can start mountain biking on this single track. Then on another part - where the backbone meets the Murphy Ranch trails there were 5 mountain bikers speeding down the trail and it is clearly marked NO BIKES. Hoping that Park Rangers can get out there and clearly mark that this area is no bikes. Bikes are permitted on the road all the way out to Camp Josepho.

hiking
19 days ago

What an incredible view once you reach the summit!!!
There are some narrow parts in the trail, make sure your shoes are appropriate. Moderate hike 2.0

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

Did this hike with my kids, ages 14 and 2, both loved it and it was pretty easy for them. There are a few precarious spots so gotta keep an eye on the toddlers. Nothing too crazy and plenty of room on the trail to hold hands and let other pass. Others have mentioned it and it’s true, there are a LOT of side trails and shortcuts, but the main trail was pretty easy to follow. Overall a great hike. Don’t forget to check out the nature center with some live snakes. When we were there they also had two owls, a great horned owl and a barn owl, outside the nature center.

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

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