Explore the most popular trails near Morena Village with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Morena Village, California Map

Completed this hike with some of my friends. Started out @ 6am and got to the top before 9. The trail was not well marked so we found our way by reading others reviews.
The views from the peak was amazing. It was so relaxing just sitting on top of the rocks and staring out to an endless view.
I think the distance was calculated wrong because I got 7 miles total...and the wooden sign for Corte Madera that was mention from previous hiker is no longer there.
All in all it was a great hike! Another one of our favorite!

Finished this one today. The trail is well-marked if you follow the directions in other comments. The terrain is very varied, going from flat to having to jump rocks and logs. It gets narrower as you approach the peak. If you are a seasoned hiker I would actually rate this moderate but I can see why it would be considered hard. The terrain is random, it's overgrown, and the length of the trip could exhaust a casual hiker. That said the views are great and the hike gave me a decent workout. Saw hawks flying around at the top. Got there at 0615 and my brother and I were the only ones there the whole time! Would do again!

Really enjoyed this trail. Agree with other reviewers that it’s a more moderate hike, though there are a couple of steep parts. Also it’s closer to 7 miles. It’s a very quiet trail, I only saw 2 other people the whole time. This is surprising, now having done it, because it’s not that difficult, only an hour outside of San Diego, and mostly a gorgeous hike. The first 1-1.5 miles are a little boring, but once you get to the saddle and junction of multiple trails, it’s pretty to the summit. I was surprised at how green the landscape was in August. The view from the top is spectacular. I did have a slightly weird feeling at times, especially in the beginning/end portion, mostly along the service road and right around the junction for the Espinosa Trail. Maybe because of the oak trees, maybe because there are a couple of shacks back there, maybe because I was alone... or maybe because Corte Madera is supposedly haunted! Who can say. It’s a cool hike, definitely recommend.

Absolutely beautiful hike with views in every direction. Parking is crappy with room for only 5 or so cars so go early. there is tremendous variety of terrain from boulders to forrest overhang. it's definitely the prettiest hike I have done yet. we passed a few people but we were the only ones at the top, I actually cried! bring a lot of water. I have a 1.5l pack and it wasn't enough. I was happy that my husband had a 3l. be super careful if you are on the path in what I have now deemed "snake o'clock". when we turned the corner from behind a boulder there was one that was half in the path. we backed away and went over another boulder to avoid it. we warned everyone that we saw on the way down but there was a deaf couple on the hike heading in when we were heading out....I was scared for them. all in all it was very scenic and definitely challenging even just in the length alone. highly recommend!

I did this hike for the first time on 5/27/18 and REALLY enjoyed the hike. This is definitely not a "Hard" hike and should be considered "Moderate" since there are some steep parts but there are just as many level or mild incline parts so it doesn't kick your butt too much. I did this as part of the Tardigrade Tough 8 Challenge which comprises 8 of the hardest hikes in the San Diego area. If you are interested follow @tt8challenge and/or @resilientsquad on Instagram.

Here are the main details of the hike:
Name: Corte Madera in Alpine, CA (east of San Diego)
Distance: 7 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,500 ft
Elevation at Peak: 4,657 ft.
Duration: 3-4 hrs
Difficulty: Moderate

*I used the directions from the All Trails App...basically the 8 East to Exit 51 Buckman Springs Rd, turn right and in 3.3 miles you will turn right on a small side road named Morena Stokes Valley Rd which is a narrow somewhat paved/dirt bumpy road and in 4.8 miles you will see a green metal gate with a red cross on it...parking for about 5 or 6 cars on the left of the road and the hike starts at the metal gate

We arrived at 6:15 am and we were the first to park in the parking area. We saw no one on our way to the peak and saw less than 10 people on our return from the peak. I really enjoy hikes where there are little to no people and there are no sounds of cars or noises except for nature.

For the first .7 miles of the hike you are on an access road lined with oaks provided cover until you reach a metal garbage can with a wooden sign that says Espinosa Trail on the left, this is the way you need to go and you will now be on a narrow single file trail.

At 1.5 miles you will come to an official metal sign which indicates Los Pinos Peak to the left and Espinosa Trail straight, just below this sign is a handmade looking wooden sign with "Corte Madera Mt" and an arrow pointing to the right...follow this sign.

At 1.9 miles you will see an official sign indicating you are entering a nesting area for birds of prey with a wooden handmade sign pointing the way to "CM" and an arrow...follow this sign.

At about 2.6 miles you will see the destination off to your left and you will see why it is called by some the San Diego Half Dome. The final .9 miles to the peak will curve around to the left and you will make a half circle to the peak when you reach about 3.4 to 3.5 total miles. There was no sign at the peak but there was a green metal container with the name and elevation on it.

There is a variation to the scenery on this trail with some shaded and some exposed areas and some cool rocks and there was a nice variety of colors (green, yellow, and violet), but most importantly were the great views at the top. On the day we hiked it was misting in the beginning and lots of fog/low clouds, but by the time we got within a mile from the top we had hiked high enough to be above the clouds and it was clear and beautiful up there. It is definitely worth the drive to do this hike and I highly recommend it.

By far the best hike I've done in San Diego! Great views, lots of flowers butterflies and birds. And most of all very few people. I highly recommend it.

It’s a long but beautiful hike. It’s super green and clear. I’m going to say this is a moderate hike only because it’s long but to be honest it wasn’t difficult at all. The views are amazing!!! Prob my fav hike thus far!!!!

I loved this trail! A little of everything, and breathtaking views. The dirt road to the trail head was longer than I expected. We were privileged to catch a bald eagle in flight. I would recommend this trail for sure!

This is my favorite hike in all of SD county. It's a gorgeous, moderate hike. Definitely account for time to soak up the view at the top.

Not hard very beautiful ⛰

Moderate hike with some impressive views throughout. Spring is definitely the right time for this hike, although it would have been even better after some rain. The creek is currently dry, but there are plenty of wildflowers and butterflies in the area.

Very nice hike. Beautiful views. There are shady spots throughout the trail. The incline is steady so you get a good workout.

Just beyond epic

6 months ago

Beautiful hike in the beginning, but after you hit the summit and then decend it gets incredibly rocky and tough. Climbing up the south side of the mountain after camping in the valley was really tough for me.

At the bottom of the valley go past the gate and walk approximately 2 more miles and hit a small waterfall. We heard tons of frogs and had a delightful sleep amongst them. But let me repeat, hiking up that south side of the mountain was really tough. Worth it to sleep among the frogs and waterfall however. I gave this a three star only because I found this hike so difficult.

Beeeeauuutiful. At the first juncture stay on the right then at the second one follow the tall brown arrow sign. The views at the top really hit your soul.

In my opinion, this hike should be rated as moderate. I did it during the rain with no problem. The views are awesome.

Tried to do an overnight trip here, but the rain and wind sent us packing to the car and down to Alpine for some burgers and beer. My fellow hikers and I didn't bring enough cold weather gear and trying to stay warm in wet jeans wasn't working out for them. The trail wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. Its pretty well defined about 70% of the time, so you need to stay focused. The Manzanitas that line the trail throughout the hike are cool, some were completely covered in the bright red bark. When the fog did clear the views were exceptional. We were able to snap a few pics and then the fog and rain came back with a vengeance. There's a good spot off the trail to set up camp about 3/4 of a mile from the peak, there is also appears a good spot further down at the Los Pinos trail junction. Will definitely be coming back when the weather clears up for another try at an overnighter.

Best trail so far. The views are amazing. Don’t forget to pick a permit up for parking. The pine valley store is couple of exist before you get off the freeway. First mile is boring but, after that, it’s gorgeous. Highly recommended

Great fun to be out with so few people around. This is an 8.5 mile trek round trip, not 6.5 miles. I followed the All Trails map here exactly (I had cell service the entire time so I knew I was on the right track at all times). My phone calculated 8.5 miles. It was 2 miles just to get to the crossing of Los Pinos Road with the Espinoza trail, and then over 2 miles more to get to the summit (at the very end of the trail, past the false summits along the way...)

Really lovely hike, with lots of different options for various levels. We didn’t make it to the top, since our dog was getting nervous on the granite, but we will be back. We did find several small, dark ticks along the trail, so vigilant checking is advised.

8 months ago

We experienced Many Ticks, so protect yourself accordingly;
Otherwise, this is a peaceful area to explore!

We made it to the cables but had to turn back just past as our dog was unable to continue due to the incline of the scramble; she is an experienced trail dog so if you are headed to the summit - leave your pets behind.

There are many other areas to explore such as the meadow and the ruins around the loop trial if the summit proves too much; this area is great for dogs.

We will be back!

Nice hike, if you want to beat the heat go early. Make sure to take a hat and enough water. Had lunch at the top very nice view. You need a permit to park that is $5, you have to go to the pine valley store to buy it. The entrance of the trail is by a gate with a red heart. You'll see a sign that says Espinoza trail on a trash can which you'll need to go through and then make a right turn once you reach a dirt road. You'll end up in another dirt road and you'll see a sign about raptors and you'll continue on that trail that will lead you to the top.

My husband and I took this hike on New Years Day. Started off at 11:30 and got back to the car at 4:30. We drank 2L water each, and it was only 65 degrees. Great hike overall. Beautiful mountain scenery and amazing walking views on the way up of Corte Madera, which fits its billing as “San Diego’s Half Dome.” Great spaces for eating lunch on the summit with breathtaking views of many of the county’s other peaks. Note, the trail directions were spot on and very helpful. Pants and long sleeves recommended due to the underbrush. Can be a little windy at the summit so bring layers. Definitely recommend this hike.

Awesome views all around with the potential to see the ocean on a clear day. I would rate this as intermediate. There are some inclines with pretty rocky ones along a couple of segments. However, the inclines are not constant and level off flat before you climb again. Lots of rest in between! The hike takes you along the back of the rock face aka the mini half dome. It gets windy at the peak but the views are vast and beautiful. Not too many people know about this hike so you get lots of seclusion. You can start this hike where AllTrails takes you or, if you have a 4x4 or a high clearance vehicle, you can continue along the dirt road and knock off maybe 1.5-2mi. A car with good suspension might be able to make it too but there are some deep ruts along the way so make sure you steer around those. We finished in ~5 hours with lots of breaks/ pictures in between though. Adventure pass needed to park.

9 months ago

Great hike, excellent views. Other reviews describe the hike well.

We started our hike at Los Pinos Road. We drove up past trail head on Morena Stokes Valley Road, took a right on Los Pinos Road, drove up paved road, and then drove down through open gate near Los Pinos Lookout. About 1.4 miles down rough road, but not a problem for Subaru Forester or other 4x4.1.7-mile hike from the open gravel parking area at intersection with Corte Madera Road (or aka Espinosa Trail).

On Sat, Dec 2 at 9:30am, we got about a mile into this hike and came right up on a Mountain Lion, just off the trail. 200 yards past the trash can sign. He let us know he was there with a BIG growl. We calmly turned the hell around. So keep your ears out on this hike. YEAH NATURE!!!

This is hands down one of the most spectacular backcountry hikes in SD county. It's been on my to do list for a while and I finally got to it.

A few things to note:

This is a backcountry wilderness hike, it's not the potato chip rock. It's in a very remote, far flung area of the county. Drive a reliable vehicle, go with another person, bring basic survival gear, know the weather conditions before you go and prepare accordingly. Check the weather for Pine Valley or Morena Village on your phone, or call a local business and ask what the weather is like. This area can be blazing hot in the summer and below freezing in the winter, it's not San Diego!

The trail is ambiguous in a few spots, a user posted a review further down with really good directions. Around the summit, the trail vanishes in a few spots, so stay sharp. I had a solid phone signal the entire hike and was able to reference this app when needed.

Adventure Pass needed to park in this area, you can buy one for $5 at Pine Valley Store.

I arrived at the trailhead on a Monday morning around 11am. The whole area was shrouded in mist and dense fog. I kind of wanted to abort the mission, but went ahead and got on with it. The emergency rain poncho I've had in my backpack for ages finally came in handy. I would've been 100% screwed without it. Visibility was about 50 yards from trailhead all the way to summit, which was a bit demoralizing and kind of eerie. In terms of difficulty, it's not bad at all. The elevation gain is very gradual throughout. If you've done Iron or Cowles, this one is nothing. It was quite cold and windy as well, and I got pretty wet even with the poncho. I dressed in layers and kept an additional dry layer in my bag which, again, saved my ass. Preparation.

At the summit, the fog began to peel away and the clouds sailed under the peak, opening up the view of the valley below. Pretty incredible sight. By 1pm, it was almost completely clear skies and sun. On my trek back down, I got to look back and see everything I missed on the way up. Very scenic and gorgeous views of the wilderness all throughout.

Got back to the car about 2:30pm, so about 3.5 hours in total. I'll definitely do this one again, and try to go on a crystal clear day!

One of the best hikes in SD. Not as difficult as it's rated. Some of the best views. Very green in November with sparse pine trees that add some surreal beauty to the trail. Make sure you make your way down the to the cliff and just hang out and enjoy the view of the valley. The trail kinda ends at the top, but is regenerated from hikers and climbers making it to the cliff. NEED AN ADVENTURE PASS. Do it.

11 months ago

A great hike for couples. If after this hike you are still talking to each other you'll probably do OK as a married couple.

Unless you are are into whips and scratches, you'd best be leaving the shorts at home. This ain't no walk in the park... You will be scratched, bruised and likely lose a bit of blood before the rock summit.

This hike has a lot of challenges.

1. The route shown on AllTrails in red is a bit off, so it may seem as though you are on the wrong trail at first. Note the piles of rock you'll pass on the side of the road as you go. Others have learned this lesson...

2. Once you get past the dam west side of the lake, look south-west about 20 yards and you'll find some heavy metal cables (about 4" thick). That's where you'll begin your first bit of climbing up to the butte.

3. From there, go directly south, follow as many of the rock cairns as you can. Though you'll likely end up having to make your own trail through some of the brush before you reach your choice of high point vistas (there are a few to choose from—you'll see...).

[At about this point in the hike, I suspect you'll wish you hadn't worn those sexy walk in the park shorts]

4. You'll have a few high point choices to trek too. The high rocks on your left are the actual Butte, with some nice views of the lake. The high rocks on the right looked more appealing to us at the time, so we chose that view instead. We made it!

Total round trip time was a bit less than 5 hours.

Tally wearing pants:
- bruises between the two of us: 3
- Manzanita branch stab marks: 2
- and noticeable scratches: 8


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