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El Cajon Mountain South Ridge is a 6 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Lakeside, California that offers the chance to see wildlife and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail is primarily used for hiking, rock climbing, and bird watching.

Length 6.0 mi Elevation gain 3,159 ft Route type Out & Back

Hiking

Rock climbing

Bird watching

Views

Wildlife

No dogs

Description
Waypoints (0)

Compared to the alternative approach from the West, this is a more direct route to the top of El Cajon Mountain.

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (91)
Photos (436)
Recordings (67)
Completed (131)
Luis Poblete
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 24, 2020
HikingNo shadeOff trailRockyScramble

Really rough trail, especially once you get up at the higher elevations. The paths themselves start getting thinner and a large part of it is scaling huge boulders. Some parts are steep and easy to lose your footing. Very easy to get lost on the way down, had to go down the side through really sketchy rocks and a ton of shrubs... don’t go alone, don’t go if you’re inexperienced. Definitely a thrill though.

Colton Korne
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJune 21, 2020
HikingNo shadeOff trailOver grownRockyScramble

*READ ALL OF THE REVIEWS* I am an avid hiker and rock climber, and this was one of the most technically challenging “hikes” I have ever done. The trail is very tough to follow as it seems there a few routes up as you literally have to scramble boulders for a large majority of it. The first .75 miles are a mild incline and not bad at all, then after that the climb truly starts. You will ascend about 2,000 feet over the next mile and you need to be comfortable with scaling small boulders. Remember that it is 3x harder on the way down, and I did get off trail for quite a bit and had to traverse the side of the mountain to get back. This is not for inexperienced climbers or anyone who doesn’t have a good sense of direction.

View Colton's Recording
Dan Du
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarJune 6, 2020
HikingRockyScramble
John Beeler
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarMay 20, 2020
HikingOver grownScramble

Meh. Views were so so and the dirt trails were ridiculously slippery and steep. Don’t recommend for kids or for anyone afraid of heights.

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Jacob Brown
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMay 17, 2020
HikingOver grownRocky

Rock climbing.

View Jacob's Recording
Bj Cook
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMay 10, 2020
HikingOver grownRockyScramble

This trail is no joke. It’s not your leisurely Sunday hike so heed all the advice of folks here. When you read reviews that most folks haven’t made it all the way to the top: there’s a reason why. The initial couple hundred feet is fine and narrow trail, but starts to transition into scrambling slab rock. If you don’t rock climb or aren’t comfortable climbing 15-20 feet sections of low angle rock slabs; stop here. If you’re good; keep going. From there you will encounter a few low 5th class scramble sections then a gully you need to shimmy up. Then you’ll follow ridge up to the left as to the right is sheer cliff. Someone fell from here when he got off trail. He did not make it. From this point you’ll head up and meet a semi trail and head up to brush covered area to the high point. You’ll see small cairns along the way but they aren’t all accurate. Getting down is a whole different animal. Going down is more dangerous than going up. Try to follow your same route down. There will be a couple sections where you need to decide to stay right or left. Always caution on the side of knowing where the drop offs and cliffs are. Have fun and be careful of there! I’d say this is not a kid friendly trail as well.

Andriana Fragola
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarApril 18, 2020
HikingOver grownRockyScramble

Really fun trail! Love the climbing and scrambling that the trail offers. We went up a bit past lunch rock and the views are amazing! Definitely recommend shoes with a good grip so you don’t slip as much in the loose soil/ rocks and pack light in your bag. Will definitely be coming back to finish the whole trail!

View Andriana's Recording
Stephanie Hartmann
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarApril 6, 2020
HikingRocky

Found this trail by mistake but was looking for open trails during Covid. The bottom part is easy but we turned around after the trail started getting very steep. Probably will not attempt the top but may come back and explore the bottom area more because the trail split off toward the resevoir. There is a dirt road where people must be able to ride in and party near the graffiti caves at the base of the rockface where you can hear your echo. My teens loved this area

Andrew P
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarApril 5, 2020
HikingRocky

The first thing to know about this trail is that it is not well marked and extremely challenging. The entrance is right where the app says it is but also not marked. The first 3/4 miles are relatively easy with a gentle incline as you wrap around the mountain. The next mile is essentially straight up, there are some sketchy areas that are very steep and you are climbing hand over hand. Several people almost slipped and fell off some of the steeper sections - again this is very challenging and some areas are dangerous. The final mile or so (once you get above the straight up portion) is not bad at all, very gradual and the trail is more easily identifiable. The descent is one of the most challenging I’ve seen. Do not attempt if it has rained at all because it will definitely be too slick. Also be careful because the trail is not marked at all...on the descent if you work too far off trail, you will be face to face with some nasty ledges and some large slick rock surfaces. Also be careful of rattle snakes, they’re here and you may see them (as we did). This trail should definitely be better marked for safety and should probably labeled above “hard” as it is quite strenuous, challenging, and can be dangerous.

Elizabeth M
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarMarch 27, 2020
HikingOver grownRocky

This hike was challenging. Towards the top you lose the trail and it is very steep. Couldn’t make it to the very top because there are too many rocks to climb over. It was a great leg workout.

View Elizabeth's Recording
Tom C.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarMarch 24, 2020
HikingNo shadeScramble

The trailhead is exactly where Google Maps takes you, but it's not marked, and the "bridge" is just a board. The trail is not marked at any point, so it's nice to have this app to follow the route. You essentially want to take every left you can. The second half is pretty much straight up. It's very challenging. If there's any chance of precipitation, then don't take this route... it will be too slippery and steep on the way down.

Richard H.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJanuary 28, 2020
No shadeScramble
View Richard's Recording
Rosa Fernandez Suarez
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJanuary 25, 2020
Hiking

Very fun and challenging hike. Love the scramble.

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