Come with us and we'll help you get over those winter doldrums with one of the more beautiful and difficult hikes in San Diego County.
Trailhead Elevation: 1,550 feet; El Cajon Peak: 3,650 feet
Hiking Distance (*From Parking Lot): 5.7 miles to the peak, theround trip total: 11.4 miles
Hiking Time: 5 to 6 hours (round trip)
Total Elevation Gain/Loss Information:
One Way (Up): Total Gain: 3000 ft / Total Loss: 900 ft / Net Change: 2100 ft
One Way (Down): Total Gain: 900 ft / Total Loss: 3000 ft / Net Change: -2100 ft
Round Trip: Total Gain: 3900 ft / Total Loss: 3900 feet
Note: going to the cliffs is not much harder but it adds an extra 2 miles to the hike. We willl talk about it at the trail head.
This hike is one of the most scenic in San Diego County and has notably the best panoramic views. On a clear day, one can see Mt Baldy near Ontario, CA to the North, Pt. Loma and the Islands to the West, well into Mexico to the South, and well past Mt Laguna to the East. The wildflowers will start in late January and continue to blossom through at least April depending on the weather.
Jerry Schad rates this hike as strenuous. This hike is not intended to be a fast-paced workout hike. This hike is meant to be a fun & leisurely weekend hike at a pace that is comfortable. However, even so, this hike will still kick butt, so I am inviting only intermediate to advanced hikers.
Directions: (From Interstate 8, Points South and West): Take Interstate 8 East to Highway 67 North. Turn right on Mapleview St. where Hwy 67 ends (at traffic light). After 0.3 miles on Mapleview St., turn left (north) on Ashwood, which becomes Wildcat Canyon Rd at 4-Way Stop Sign (after 1 mile). From the the 4-Way Stop, proceed straight up Wildcat Canyon Rd about 3.3 miles (according to mile markers) to the El Capitan Open Space Preserve on the right hand side of the Wildcat Canyon Rd. The El Capitan Parking lot is on the left side of the access road. An additional parking lot is on the opposite side of Wildcat Canyon Rd (Oak Oasis Lot). So, there is ample parking. Also, parking is free (open 7am-7pm) at both lots. Note: if you go as far as Barona, you have gone a couple miles too far.
(From Ramona or Points North): Take Route 67 South to Willow Rd. Turn left on Willow Rd and proceed about 1.3 miles to Wildcat Canyon Rd. Turn left on Wildcat Canyon Rd at 4-Way Stop Sign. Proceed 3.3 miles on Wildcat Canyon Rd to El Capitan Open Space Preserve on the right hand side of Wildcat Canyon Rd.
Nearby City/Reservation: Lakeside, Barona Indian Reservation
For a view of the trailhead, look in the "files" under the "more" dropdown menu above. Do not park on the street because you will be ticketed.
Hiking Necessities: A minimum of 2 liters of water, more on hotter days, is recommended to remain properly hydrated throughout the hike. (Do not show up with just a 20 oz drink)!!! Additionally, bringing an energy food snack is recommended. Due to steep terrain, having hiking boots and/or trail sneakers with good soles is a must. Hiking poles are recommended, but are optional. Dress in layers when the weather forecast indicates temperature extremes during the day. Otherwise, dress according to the conditions. It can get quite hot and quite cold at certain times of the year. Lastly, wear appropriate sunscreen because there is not much shade on this hike.
See you there!