Left at 6am, got to the top at 8am. Gorgeous views, hiking above the clouds in San Diego is quite a treat. Went through 100oz of water. Watch out for the heat. We were back by 10:30am and it was hot!

Beautiful excursion, gorgeous scenery, easy and tiring path, the only negative thing being too high temperatures this season. I recommend bringing water.

This is an amazing hike- very challenging especially in the heat. I have hiked this guy about 6 times now and I always think I have it mastered but just when you think " hey I got this" then el cap bites back!! Seriously tho being at least 100 oz water and snacks salty and I think the best tip I would give is a really simple one: BE MENTALLY PREPARED for this hike it is long and can be demoralizing at times but hey that's what it is all about!

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
1 month 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

2 months ago