I was a bit nervous about doing this hike after reading lots of reviews online but it wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. Took us 5.5 hours in total and we summited El Cajon Mountain ...other option is to follow the trail at the top to the right which takes you to El Cap instead. We wouldn't have made this without trekking poles, the steep hills were really muddy and slippery. My friend who wore sneakers suffered more than I did as I was wearing hiking boots. If you pace yourself and take it easy I'm sure most fitness levels can do this, just be prepared that it will take 5-6 hours...I did see a few families with little kids...not sure how far they made it. Oh and bring LOTS of water!! We finished our camel paks and wished we had brought more!! I think the return journey was faster than getting there which is different to the reviews I had read online... I guess the excitement of getting back to the parking lot pushed us more and we did jog back on the downhill steeps.
hiking1 second ago
This was not as hard IMHO as Baldy Ski Hut Trail. Now don't get me wrong, it is a challenge. I hike quite a bit so your take on it will depend on how much you hike. You have some steep and sometimes slippery inclines and descents, but you also have what I call "reprieve" areas where you can catch your breath and recover. We stopped after each ascent and took water and a snack bite. We are all in our 50-60's and weren't complaining nearly as much as the "kids" in there 20's and 30's were when we reached the top. We just enjoyed and took the whole day to do the hike. The scenery is beautiful both ways. There were 6 of us, and there were 6 slip/falls, but those weren't divided equally...thank goodness. Your's truly got none! Just take it easy. Carb up before you go, take plenty of snacks/food/water. Wear boots and take poles. Enjoy!
Started at 7 am on Saturday and was glad I did. By the time I got back down to the car in the late morning, I certainly would not have wanted to be heading the other way up the trail in the relative heat.
The trail, but for the switchbacks just above the toilets and the last push to the top after the 5 mile marker is wide and easy to follow. There are sections that have more loose rock and ruts than others, but the trail is wide enough there always seemed to be a flat-ish, compacted section to take.
As many have said, the trail back is quite challenging, unlike many in the area. Those same steep ascents on the way out become knee jarring descents on the way back. I STRONGLY recommend trekking poles to distribute the load.
Enjoy the beautiful views and if you hike in the early morning, your shortened sleep will be rewarded with some amazing views of mist and clouds rolling over the surrounding hills and valleys!!!
I have hiked many trails in the county; EC Mt. is the most difficult. It is uphill both ways and more trail erosion after the recent rains has made it even more slippery and difficult to maneuver --Bring trekking polls and wear a good pair of hiking boots! That said, it is also very beautiful--and I love the bouldering toward the summit.