Tag Archives: El Cajon Mountain Trail

El Cajon Mountain Trail


Near Lakeside

Activity: Day Hike, Peak Bagging

12 miles, summit elevation 3675’, elevation gain 3743’, 6 hour duration, rated HARD

Date: 11-19-21

El Cajon Mountain, one of the coveted 6 Pack of Peaks in San Diego, sits in over 2,600 acres of natural protected land.  Half a mile from the parking lot, (which by the way, plan accordingly as to when the parking lot closes, it is at 4:30 PM in the winter), are bathrooms and the trailhead.  Also keep in mind that during the summer this would be a very hot place to hike, and the trail I have heard could be closed during August due to extreme heat.  Make sure that you bring plenty of water and snacks.  

El Cajon Mountain is not the highest, but has been called the “Toughest hike in San Diego.” It begins with rambling hills and a lot of up and down like a spin class.  You will get some switch backs and there are some really steep sections with loose rocks so trekking poles would be of assistance.  There is a split in the trail on the way up you will see that it talks about old and new.  The official route is go right, but either will work I took left on the way up and the other on the way down.  You will find a Stop sign at the half way mark reminding you that you still have a long ways to go and you need to plan for the closing of the parking lot.  The thrill of being close is greatly diminished when you come over the rise and there is a peak that has to be scrambled still. 

On top you have some awesome views of downtown San Diego off in the distance as well as plenty of hills and mountains.  

On my way down I added El Capitan Peak, after all I am a peak bagger and it is right there for the taking.   I also checked out old mines on the way back down the trail a piece. If you have not been in a cave then check them out, otherwise it wasn’t even worth putting on my head lamp lol. 

My Hobie Cat/Peak Bagging friend Keith Christensen once said, “If it didn’t hurt then it wasn’t worth it.”  This hike was worth it. 

There is a split in the trail either way works. I did the newer harder way on the way up and the Old Way not quite as hard on the way down.

My side trips to El Capitan Peak, (no not that El Capitan Peak…) and to the mine.

Pursuing Balance Through Adventure YouTube Channel
When everything feels like an up hill struggle, just think of the view from the top.

This was an hike I was looking forward to as a tough one and it did not disappoint. It was a good one, One where you felt that you accomplished something. It was hard, it was long, it was wonderful. The area was superb, and the vistas so sweet. Stay with me to celebrate such endeavors, which is easy to do, just: COMMENT, LIKE, FOLLOW and SHARE. If you like my hat and shirt then checkout my adventure wear website SHOP APPAREL. I invite you to checkout the Menu above. It will show you some wondrous places all over the West that I have traveled to on behalf PBTA. The Menu is categorized by location as well as activity. Each is a separate website and thus needs to be FOLLOWED independently.

Happy Trails-

Roger Jenkins

Pursuing Balance Through Adventure