Nighthawk Trail Black Mountain Loop

EASY 107 reviews

Nighthawk Trail Black Mountain Loop is a 5.5 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near San Diego, California that offers scenic views and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
5.5 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1286 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dog friendly

kid friendly

birding

hiking

mountain biking

nature trips

trail running

walking

views

rocky

Free parking and a restroom at Hilltop Park

42 minutes ago

hiking
13 days ago

hiking
14 days ago

pretty views. Also, good cell phone signal at the summit where all that radio equipment is...

hiking
14 days ago

I loved the hike.

Difficulty - based on the descriptions "good for all skill levels," I thought this was going to be easy. But I went in at the hilltop and went left, and it was a steady climb to the top, which took about 40 minutes. Halfway up there was a break ish, and by no means would I say I was huffing and puffing, but it definitely counts as a workout, and my friends who would be on the lower skill level would not have enjoyed it. I, who love hiking, loved it. It filled my activity bar on my Polar watch (like a FitBit) in 40 minutes, and I ended my 2 hours (wandered around) at 200% so definitely suggest and say it's a workout.

Foot Traffic - I went today (Saturday) at 1pm and while there were enough people that I felt safe, 95% of the time I was alone. A random person would go by in the other direction, but it was nice. I like being somewhere I can clear my head, but also know if I get lost, someone will find me. Which leads me to:

Bring Supplies - The signage isn't the best. I mean if you just want to follow one path, that's fine. But I tried doing Nighthawk and then Little Black Mountain (I think that's what it was called) and got lost. I ended up back on a path I'd already been on but didn't realize it until I ran out of water and found myself half way up the summit again. A group of people went by with extra bottles of water and more confidence on which way was back to the bottom, so we walked together, so I'm happy about the foot traffic and definitely will not go with just 2 bottles of water next time.

Definitely suggest it as a more peaceful alternative to Torrey Pines for someone who is active and looking for a workout, while also having others around you.

hiking
21 days ago

23 days ago

1 month ago

1 month ago

Loved the 360 view at the Summit

1 month ago

trail running
1 month ago

This is not easy!!! I consider easy as something that would work for all levels but there are tons of rocks and climbing. I pretty much guessed that by the vertical feet gain listed in the details. I still enjoyed the challenge and you definitely get some nice views. I couldn't figure out where to go to do the full on loop but I wasn't looking at the directions listed constantly so I just ended up exploring till I hit my desired mileage. I guess if you constantly paying attention to the directions you are good, but that can be difficult to do while running.

1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

2 months ago

2 months ago

mountain biking
2 months ago

hiking
2 months ago

An average trail. Mountain bikes are allowed, and they're abundant. You have to watch your back so as not to be run over. Views at the top are nice. On a clear day you can see downtown, the ocean, and Big Bear.

hiking
3 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

Great trail. The recent rains have made the beginning of the trail, at hilltop park, a muddy mess, but hey, welcome to the great outdoors. While damp most of the rest of the way, the trail dried up considerably after the first 1/4 mile.

I hiked counter clockwise, nighthawk to miners ridge. The trail is in very good condition and easy to follow (mostly). The basic rule is, stay on the most obvious and well worn trail and you're far less likely to get lost.

As of the writing of this review, the section of trail from the secondary peak to Black Mountain peak IS CLOSED. There is no readily available bypass or alternative to reach Black Mountain from the N/NW. If you're looking at the map, the section I am referring to is from where the map says STUB (slightly NW of Black Mountain summit) to the Black Mountain summit. I do not know the duration of the closure but it is for restoration purposes, so my guess is some time. I tried one of the small goat paths down from the secondary summit to the draw between the peaks (this is not on the map but easy to locate from the secondary summit), but it led only to a stream and no path to the top, forcing me to backtrack to the secondary summit. Essentially, there is no way to the top of Black Mountain from the north without bushwacking and for naturue's sake, don't.

Your options are then to backtrack to Nighthawk and take the short, steep connection to the "thumbs up" on Miner's Ridge Loop to the summit or consider the secondary summit a success all it's own (it still has amazing views).

hiking
3 months ago