This visiting Floridian who doesn't hike much enjoyed this challenging hike. Yesterday when I hiked it was sunny and the temp got up to 80. So, bring lots of water. I took 3 very needed liters.

My hiking boots have very good traction so footing wasn't an issue.

Since I'm probably older than 95% of the hikers, treking poles were extremely beneficial.

On the return, I stopped for a water break at the metal bench. It felt so good. The bench back made for a pleasant stop. Looking out, I thought I had just one ridge line to cross over before getting back to my car. Ha Ha. There were three ridge lines to cross.

P.S. I met a couple of trail runners on the way up and back. Just unbelievable.

Hiked this monster yesterday and this trail got my attention BIG TIME. After reading all the previous reviews we (a crew of three hiking ladies) were quite apprehensive...were we ready...will we make it? etc.
We felt prepared. We even bought ourselves trekking poles which, by the way, saved our bacon and I highly recommend for this trail.

The trail starts off being somewhat tame raising our confidence. In fact, it only gets really gnarly about 1/3 mile from the summit. At this point the trail basically disappears but there are green posts indicating the direction and sorta showing you which bolder you have to scramble over or which boulders you need to somehow squeeze between. Well we made it to the top but that last part was not fun. If and when I ever hike this again, I will pass on this last part of the trail and go check out the south face which is supposed to be just like the one in Yosemite (but smaller).

The way back was almost worst. Since we were tired (6 miles already”) it just seems tough. Every time we came upon yet another uphill portion of the hike, we would think “this must be the last one...” but NO. Even though we made better time going back (4 hours in but we were taking our time, and 3.5 back but we were worried about getting locked into the parking lot) it is just as hard.

So here are some recommendations:
1. Do not go on a hot day.
2. Take more water than you think you will need.
3. Trekking poles really help a lot.
4. Give yourself plenty of time.


If hiking was a course in high school, every other SD hike I've done would be a quiz and El Cajon Mountain would be the final exam.

If you've hiked all over SD, then you'll understand the comparisons below:

1) you get the ups and downs that you find at Mount Gower.

2) the scrambling at the last half mile to the summit is like Lawson Peak and Gower except it's marked WAY better (there are green sticks indicating the "correct" path).

3) the steepness is like Mount Mcginty, but you'll get teased as there are several descents in between the inclines.

4) make sure you have shoes with great traction. the terrain is dry and sandy/gravel-y in a lot of the steep spots.

5) take a lot of water/snacks/Gatorade. this hike doesn't have a ton of shade and you'll be on this mountain for at least 4 hours if not longer.

overall, the hike is mostly a long dirt/ rocky trail that has enough ups and downs to not be boring. the scrambling at the very end was the best part. the end of the trail takes you to the "face" of the mountain.

wouldn't recommend this hike for beginners. i would recommend you start this hike no later than 7 am in cool weather. If you go before dawn, there are spiders around the bushes that might get in your face in the first part of the hike with the switchbacks so just be aware.

Great hike - rugged but, worth the effort!

Definitely not a hike for novices! Poles are a help, especially on the steep sections, both up and down. Those final couple of climbs on the way back to the car seem endless, but a great sense of accomplishment when you finish. Like everyone says, bring plenty of water!!

Started at 6:40 from the road and made it to the summit slightly under 3 hours. Enjoyed the views and ate lunch. Hiked down and over to the El Capitan lookout before heading down. Took 3 hours to get down and in the car by 1:30. Great hike but bring a lot of water. Drank almost 3 liters.

This Hike is said to be the hardest hike in San Diego. Personally it's my favorite because of the different terrain (all San Diego hikes into one place). We had walked the entire trail which had taken us 8 hours to complete including breaks (4 hours up & 3 1/2 hours down). People had posted different distances for this hike ranging between (11.1-12 miles) but on the way up you'll pass two "5 mile markers" then no more number markers at the peak. Parking is open 8am-5pm. You can also park on the main street if you aren't sure how long you'll take. I have an actual video on YouTube showing the different terrain and markers on the way up. There is a sign before you enter that says you need at least like 6 1/2* bottles worth of water (little more than 2L) I forgot but you'll see the sign. Other than that, enjoy your hike and remember there's no Uber to pick you up from up top!

Hiked this yesterday with a group of friends (1/7/18). I would not recommend this for beginners, definitely a challenge. Lots of going up and down, it gets very steep at the top. Bring plenty of water and snacks. Start early to give yourself plenty of time to take breaks if you need them. I don’t think I could hike this during the warmer months. Yesterday was perfect! The breeze at the top felt nice and the view was worth it.

It’s hard for sure, but don’t get discouraged for that, take your time and pace, take a break when tire and admire the views, take your mind off the steep hills and you’ll enjoy it!! I recommend go early before sunrise although the parking is open by 8 but you could park by the street. Bring water, gatorade and some snacks and Enjoy!

14 days ago

Hardest trail in San Diego. Bring your A game cuz it’s long and rugged. Bring lots of water. Lots of up and down.

Most challenging of all local San Diego hikes. First attempt we gave up after 4.5 miles, it was too strenuous. Second attempt-Jan 6 2018 made it to the top, some almost gave up after looking up at the last mile. Last mile, looked very challenging, but don’t give up. Take a break, have some water and conquer this beast. You will not regret it. Take lots of water, sweet & salty snacks, Gatorade. Park on the street if you can’t make it back before 5pm, gate closes at 5pm.

It’s fabulous. Just not for beginners ever! This is not Iron Mountain. Bring lots of water (4 liters in the Winter) give your self plenty of time and the views and the accomplishment is worth it!

This has to be my favorite hike in San Diego and in my own person believe, one of the hardest, but don’t let that discourage you, the view at the top is magnificent!

Very strenuous but fun!! Would recommend taking a friend so you take each other’s pictures with the breath taking views!!

Great local hike

A challenging hike! I don’t recommend this for beginners. Take plenty of water and start early, great views along the way.

A decent hike up a mini mountain with some elevation gain, El Cajon is a great option if you’re an SD local and you don’t want to travel into the San Bernadinos for a decent hike. Reading the reviews it’s not as bad as some people make it - if you’re in good shape and have backcountry experience this is a walk in the park. Not pushing it I averaged 3mph climbing and descending. Heed the warnings about heat though as the trail’s exposed to the sun pretty much the entire way. Also be aware the trail closes at 5pm, which is posted all over the place. Great trail close to SD!

This hike is pretty brutal on a sunny day. I am in good shape and this hike wiped me out. Definitely make sure you pretty plenty of water and SNACKS. Be aware that any sunny day will make this hike much harder. Coming back isn't as bad but definitely know your limits because I can easily see people getting into trouble on this trail. This is a much harder hike than Cowles, Mt. Woodson, or the other San Diego hikes so just be aware! It has an incredible view at the top

This hike is perfect for pushing yourself. There is no escaping the uphill because it is both ways. I saw a rattlesnake so keep your eye out.

This hike is not for the beginner and This hike is NOT kid friendly. I’ve always read other peoples reviews of hikes saying how hard the hike is and there is always that one person who says the hike is easy. You won’t find that person saying that about this hike. This hike will test you. I’m not kidding when I say it’s up hill both ways. Bring a lot of water and food. I went through 3 liters and it wasn’t very hot out. Take breaks and enjoy views. The last 1/4 mile to the main peak is brutal and rewarding.

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