excellent workout, extremely hard hike. we went very early and on the way back my dog almost couldn't finish. Bring lots and lots of water.

Super rough hike. Bring plenty of water and start early. I think I'll only be doing this hike in the cooler months.

trail running
10 days ago

Excellent trail with beautiful views. Hike is strenuous and should be done as early as possible during summertime. Recommend a minimum of 3L of water if you plan on completing the hike. As mentioned by others, the trail parking area opens at 8am, but you can park by the street if you arrive earlier (which I recommend).

Be mindful of wildlife on the trail, I encountered a Speckled Rattlesnake while running, luckily he warned me of his presence so I was able to avoid him. The snakes will not attack unless provoked, so do not attempt to relocate or harm them.

Only hikers/runners with some experience and knowledge of their own abilities should attempt to reach the peak. If you have any question regarding your health and fitness, do not attempt the hike, if you require rescue you are straining local resources, try something easier.

This hike is tough, even for experienced hikers. Upside: Good climbing and an overall challenging trail- the kind I've been looking for since moving back to SD. Downside: more crowded than I expected or like, but it's because everyone needs to start within the early a.m. window.

Recommend this hike for those looking for a more challenging trek to push yourself/test your stamina, but there are some things worth noting, most of which are mentioned in other reviews:
- Do start early. I left the parking area between 7:30 and 8 am but really should have started by 6 am in hindsight. I was concerned about hikers I saw still heading out when I was on the return; I hope they weren't planning to go the whole way out and back in the afternoon heat.
- I wouldn't recommend doing this in the summer, or any time we have hot weather. There's no shade and the east county heat blazes - not the type of conditions you want for this type of repeated climbing and descending. I'll wait until November or December before doing it again.
- Heed the advice to take more water than you think. I did, and took 4.5 liters. I didn't run out but I did use it all, though think I probably should have drank more given I didn't have to pee once over 7 hours. A group near me each had 3 liter camel backs and when I saw them on the return, they had been out of water for some time and it didn't look fun. (I cursed the extra weight on my back during the first few hours of climbing but so glad I had it, especially in the the last 3 miles of the return.)
- Carb up, no question
- The flys up top were horrible. Even max deet doesn't work on them for some reason. I was bit by horseflies 2x but more so driven out of my mind by the swarming. I'll only go again when we have wind/less sun. they were that bad, at least for me (and bugs have to be extreme for me to even care)
- Also, others have mentioned car break ins. There were two piles of freshly broken car window glass where cars are parked on the side of the road, so it's clearly still an issue.

Finally, Modern Hiker has a really informative post on this hike. It's worth a read if you want more info on what to expect: https://modernhiker.com/hike/hike-el-cajon-mountain

trail running
1 month ago

Definitely start early, like 6-7am. You might even be above the clouds for part of the hike. Don't psych yourself out with the mile markers, but be humble and know when to stop. It's an up and down hike that is hard on the feet. Once you get to the top, you still have a deceivingly long climb to the summit, but find some shade up there and relax. Like everyone says, you can't have enough water.

Hiked over memorial day, was a great hike, that challenges your stamina. Its a long one with a lot of elevation gain. Its going to get hot over the summer as it was already getting pretty hot while we hiked. Trail is in fair condition, as you get higher up it breaks down a bit but very well marked. If you're ready for the challenge, go for it, don't forget to bring extra water and some food.

We did this hike on 6/12/17 and it was about 78 degrees and breezy. I have done longer hikes before but I definitely think the elevation changes made this one a challenge. It was pretty much uphill or downhill the whole time without much flat ground. I think this would be doable for anyone in good shape if the weather is decent and you are prepared with water, snacks, and good shoes. I went with running shoes and did okay but it was quite slippery at times so I agree with other comments that hiking boots and maybe even hiking sticks could help. The path was very well marked which I appreciated. The views were very pretty. We finished the round trip in a little under 6 hours including breaks.