It’s a nice shaded trail, mostly uphill on your way in. The trail is wide and not too steep. It is easy to get confused at the forks though, and the trail could do with a few more markings. With 21 ft over cuyamaca this is the tallest mountain in San Diego county. Today was clear and we managed to see San Jacinto, San Gorgonio, Salton Sea. There is a rickety old watch tower at the top, but the winds can make it quite a risky climb. The road can accommodate 4x4 vehicles too, though we did not encounter any.

off road driving
1 month ago

Such a fun, easy trail. It’s so pretty and there weren’t a lot of bugs this time of year like others were talking about. Most of the trail you don’t really even need 4wd. I left it on to be safe but honestly didn’t really need it except for one section with some deep ruts.

Great hike. Long with great views at the end but make sure you bring mask. Gnats are Gnarly. Cool Forrest like hiking.

Great Christmas Day hike. Beautiful views!

3 months ago

Veterans Day Hike. November 10, 2017 Triumph the highest peak in San Diego County, Hot Springs Mountain from the longest and steepest part, Hot Springs Drive. Racked up 16.24 RT mileage and 3,413 ft. elevation gains returning to Trailhead on a beautiful sunset! The views to the Tower and Peak are breathtaking amazing and worth the hike. Signed the official Peak Log and located one geological benchmark. Only recommendation, bring plenty of snacks, water and a mask from the relentless gnats!

Drove a good ways up the road until road became very rutted, then parked in a pullout and hiked the rest of the way. The gnats are an annoyance, but a pair of wrap around sunglasses kept them at bay. Hike from about 2.5 miles from the summit was enjoyable and not overly strenuous. Amazing views at the top at the fire lookout tower. The elevated knoll opposite the tower is the true summit which requires a bit of climbing and has a summit book. Had the mountain all to ourselves on a Sunday, well worth the $10 admission.

We were planning on starting the hike at around 8am but we got a little confused as we weren't sure where the trailhead was. When we arrived, the guard wasn't at the gate so we didn't know where to stop or start. Be aware that there are barely any signs and the trail is not marked. Another thing to be very aware of on a summer morning, eye gnats. Not a 100, thousands. Not just the first mile, but the whole way up. They are RELENTLESS. Insect repellent didn't do anything, wearing sunglasses helped at least to get them away from our eyes, but i would suggest bringing a head net with you. Having said all this, BEAUTIFUL views, amazing colors, gorgeous forested scenery; very well worth it. The hike is challenging as the first 2 miles are very steep and make up for an awesome workout. It was challenging but not as strenuous as El Cap (El Cajon Mountain). We will be coming back in Autumn/Winter once the gnats are gone.

This hike *should* have been wonderful, but I do not recommend it right now in the summer. The scenery was gorgeous -- no worries there. BUT there were ***thousands*** of eye gnats in a "Pig Pen" style cloud around me for almost all the hike that were a plague in spite of wearing DEET. I finished the hike, but only out of sheer willpower. Later, I found out those eye gnats, which drink from your eye secretions, sweat and open wounds, carry disease. I wonder if they've always had such trouble with these buggers. It was lovely scenery, though, with robust mixed sequoia/conifer/oak forest for the last 1000 feet of elevation gain, so I might give it a try again in November or March, when there's still been a recent freeze to kill the bugs . . . .

scenic driving
7 months ago

I cheated and drove all the way to the top! There's something about hiking on a dirt road when you own a 4x4 truck that just seems wrong! Anyway, it was a beautiful drive and there are redwoods up there! I had no idea they grew this far South.

amazing that's all I can say. Hard but amazing.

Such amazing view from the top.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

This was a beautiful hike. The first 2 miles were very steep but the views at the top were worth it. I did this hike the first weekend in December on a Santa Ana condition day. There was old snow at the top and views all the way out to the islands.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Finally knocked this one off my list, after years of eyeing it online, the highest peak in SD. 3 of us made the trek on a Sunday morning in October, arriving a little before 9am. We all read different things about this hike, from how much you pay to what time the guard is there, to the mileage, etc. The guard was there, gave us a day pass and map for $10, I asked him where to park and where the trailhead was. We parked at the Rough Rd Campground(dirt, but should be accessible by car), and the trailhead was visible ahead on the left(there's 2 cones in front of it and a chain blocking the entrance). This hike consists primarily on a dirt fire road. I would not call it strenuous or difficult(I am an avid hiker and trail runner). But the first 2 miles were at a decent/significant incline so it took a bit to adjust to the breathing, however again this is on a dirt road, it's not technical at all. One of the most difficult parts of the trail was not getting sidetracked on one of the side trails that branch off, just stay on the main road leading upwards to the right and take your map the guard gave you. Towards the top I almost thought we weren't going the right way, since it leveled off in some areas and we weren't at an incline here and there. But eventually the Salton Sea came into view behind us, and the old tower ahead. We made the trek over to the boulders at the top where apparently the true summit is. Amazing views and scenery throughout this entire hike, cooler weather(wore shorts and brought a sweater with me). Our total mileage out and back, and starting at the campground was 11.03miles. I also saw all different mileages online.. I'm not sure where the people that get around 6miles total started from. Definitely recommend, and we only saw 2 other groups on the trail while we were out there(took us a little over 4hours, and that included hanging out at the top for a bit and exploring.

Monday, October 17, 2016

If you're looking for a beautiful hike that is challenging, with amazing views at the top - this is for you! The first two miles are extremely vertical and strenuous. We hike every weekend (including San Jacinto and Tahquitz) and we felt this was harder than both. Straight up on the way up, straight down on the way back which was hard on my feet. But - an amazing workout! The forested area was so beautiful! We saw four deer right in the middle of the path. Fall is a great time to hike here with the changing colors! Note: When you get to the old lookout tower - that's not the peak. Though it is a great place to have lunch! The peak is the higher mountain in front of the tower. You have to do some bushwacking to get there - which we thought was odd. I'm guessing a lot of people missed it thinking the tower was the peak. But hidden in the bushes we found some large boulders with a blue line hanging down from the top that you have to climb up to get to the benchmarks. Two of them are on the top of the boulder, and a third is another bolder next to it. Overall the hike was amazing - but I wouldn't call it moderate. I'd call it difficult. It was beautiful, and everything you want in a challenging hike! Almost 11 miles from the campground to the peak and back.

Monday, October 17, 2016

I'm sure that this hike has different seasonal variation, being somewhere that has seasons, and my group happened to pick a beautiful autumn day to go up here. Stopping by at the tribal gatehouse, the attendant gave us a paper map of the whole area, which has many trails and recreation areas, and the day use fee was $10. He gave us clear directions to the trailhead to Rough Road at the campground. As described in other reviews, there were a couple steep miles to grind through and then some well forested gradual up and down slopes to get to the lookout. What made it special on this trip was the autumn colors as many of the oaks were starting to turn color. The views were great. West: Palomar and Warner Springs. Northwest: Cahuilla and Thomas Mountain. North: San Gorgonio and San Jacinto. Northeast: Toro, Santa Rosa. East: Salton Sea. Southeast to South: Laguna, Stonewall, Cuyamaca, and Volcan. Southwest: Mesa Grande, Woodson and Black Mountain. After lunch at the foot of the tower, we took the pig path a few hundred feet north to the summit and scaled a boulder to the platform. There were 3 benchmarks up there and mostly the same stunning view. A hike down soon followed and we left with many delightful pictures and memories.

Monday, May 23, 2016

This is definitely one of the most beautiful hikes in San Diego. Lots of shade. Lots of forest. Easy terrain, but a good cardio workout. Gorgeous scenery and views at the top. Check the Los Coyotes Reservation website for parking details, etc.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Views are terrific, but do start at the campground. Tribal cops directed us to Hot Springs Mountain Road, which starts at 4000 feet near the entrance gate and is a 15.6 mile round trip slog.

Friday, June 07, 2013

This is the tallest mountain in San Diego County. You start the hike from a campground on the Los Coyotes Indian Reservation. The day permit is around $15 for a couple, roughly on par with what some of the State Parks and National Forests charge. You pay at a building by a stop sign, and then drive for about 2.5 miles more down Camino San Ignacio before you reach the campground.

From the campground, the first two miles are some fairly steep switchbacks on a road wide enough for vehicles. It is completely exposed, and the slope is unrelenting. After those two miles, there are three more miles in forested areas, with well-established signs on the various paths that lead off of the "main" path. The slope tapers off considerably, but is still nearly all uphill. At the top, there are two hills, one with a fire lookout and one without. At the top, the views are amazing, although it was very windy. The hike down was much better, and although the final two miles are very steep, the footing was fine. All told, it was right at 10 miles roundtrip. It took 4 hours total, and there was no one else on the mountain.

Compared to other hikes in the area, I would rate this as good but not great. The trail itself is a dirt road as opposed to a narrow path, which has its pros and cons. The advantage is that you're not going to just happen upon a rattlesnake. The disadvantage is that it's harder to shade, and the two miles at the bottom are awfully exposed. It's nice having the area to yourself, as some trails (Mt Woodson especially) have tons of folks. The hike itself is not quite as strenuous as Mt Woodson, but is more difficult than the Conejos loop trail to the top of Cuyamaca Peak. But if you're training for something, this is a great workout. And the view at the top really is nice, with unimpeded views in 3 directions.

Load More