Viejas Mountain

Viejas Mountain Trail Hike

Distance: 3 miles | Hiking time: 2.5 hours | Difficulty: 6/10

The Viejas Mountain Trail hike takes you straight up the western face of the mountain to the summit. Viejas Mountain is a thigh busting, lung burning hike that’s the perfect length for a quick workout, and the rewards at the top are worth every ounce of energy it takes to get there.

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Bernardo Mountain

Bernardo Mountain Summit Trail

Distance: 7.2 miles | Hiking time: 3.5 hours | Difficulty: 6/10

Overlooking Lake Hodges and located along the Coast to Crest Trail in San Dieguito River Park is Bernardo Mountain. The vast number of wandering trails that wind their way around the lake and over the surrounding hillsides make the park a popular destination for hikers, trail runners, mountain bikers and birdwatchers. Bernardo Mountain is a fun, moderately challenging hike that is sure to please, regardless of your reason for going.

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Iron Mountain

Iron Mountain Peak Trailhead

Distance: 6.4 miles | Hiking time: 3.5 hours | Difficulty: 6/10

The “short trail” up Iron Mountain is a family friendly hike that will leave you invigorated and inspired. Get started early to beat the crowds, bring plenty of water, and you are certain to embark on a hike that you won’t soon forget.

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Mt. Woodson & Potato Chip Rock

Potato Chip Rock on Mt. Woodson Summit

Distance: 7.25 miles | Hiking time: 4.5 hours | Difficulty: 7/10

Potato Chip Rock, resting near the 2894 ft. summit of Mt. Woodson, attracts people from around the world. It has a celebrity-like status among visiting hikers due to the massive amount of attention it has received in social media over the last few years. Everyone wants a picture taken of them standing atop the iconic rock, and for good reason, they earned the right by simply getting there.

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North Fortuna Peak

North Fortuna Peak hike

Distance: 6.5 miles | Hiking time: 4 hours | Difficulty: 7/10

North Fortuna Peak is the third highest peak in Mission Trails Regional Park, behind Pyles Peak and Cowles Mountain. This is a fun hike and an easy extension when hiking to South Fortuna Peak via the same route. There’s more than one way to reach the summit of North Fortuna Peak, but South Fortuna Trail is by far my favorite.

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Pyles Peak

Pyles Peak hike

Distance: 6 miles | Hiking time: 3 hours | Difficulty: 7/10

Beyond the summit of Cowles Mountain, another 1.5 miles down the trail, there is a peak that few people know about, and even fewer make the effort to visit. Pyles Peak may be Cowles Mountain’s lesser half, but only in stature. The 3 mile out and back extension offers a number of impressive viewpoints, while leaving the crowds and chaos of Cowles behind.

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McGinty Mountain

McGinty Mountain hike

Distance: 5.0 miles | Hiking time: 3 hours | Difficulty: 6/10

McGinty Mountain is part of San Diego’s 11,000+ acre National Wildlife Refuge and is home to some of the rarest plant species in the county. Despite having a relatively low peak elevation (2183 ft.) in comparison to some of its neighboring peaks, like Lawson and Gaskill Peaks, the panoramic views from McGinty Mountain’s summit are no less spectacular.

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Lawson Peak

Lawson Peak Hike

Distance: 4.5 miles | Hiking time: 3 hours | Difficulty: 7/10

The hike along the fire road leading to Lawson Peak is really just the price of admission. The real adventure begins when you reach the base of the peak and begin your scramble for the summit. If it’s a challenge you’re looking for, it’s a challenge you’ll find at Lawson Peak

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Kwaay Paay Peak

Kwaay Paay Peak Trail

Distance: 2.5 miles | Hiking time: 1.5 hours | Difficulty: 5/10

Kwaay Paay Peak Trail in Mission Trails Regional Park is a short, out and back hike that will leave you breathless, both on the hike up and from the view once you reach the top. Not for the faint of heart, this trail is steep, rough and tough. Wear a rugged pair of hiking shoes and prepare yourself for a quick, but memorable hike.

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El Cajon Mountain

Hiking El Cajon Mountain Trail

Distance: 11 miles | Hiking time: 5-6 hours | Difficulty: 8/10

Frequently described as being, “the toughest hiking trail in San Diego,” El Cajon Mountain hiking trail is well-known for its relentless elevation changes and remarkable 360 degree views from the summit. Also known as “El Capitan” or simply “El Cap,” El Cajon Mountain is a beast of a hike that challenges your will and tempts your spirit.

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