Black Mountain Hike San Diego: Miner’s Ridge Loop and Nighthawk Trail to the Summit

Miner’s Ridge Loop Trail is centrally located in Black Mountain Open Space Park in San Diego. It offers 360-degree views, including an unobstructed view of the mountains to the east. The trail is well-traveled and popular among hikers and mountain bikers. There is no entrance fee for the park and ample parking is available at the trailhead, which is a bonus.

RELATED: Miner’s Ridge Loop Trail in Black Mountain Open Space Park

The trailhead for Miner’s Ridge Loop Trail is near the base of the northeast face of the mountain, just south of 4S Ranch off Carmel Valley Road. The access road leading to the trailhead can be easily missed, so stay alert as you approach.

View from Miner's Ridge Loop trail trailhead

The eastern ridges of San Diego are visible from the trailhead, as is an unobstructed view of the cell towers standing on top of Black Mountain Peak.

Hiking Miner’s Ridge Loop Trail

Shortly after setting out, the trail begins to narrow and become uneven, giving you the sense that you’re a lot further away from the city than you are. The chaparral surrounding the trail thickens, growing well overhead, even creating tunnels in places.

Manzanita trees along Miner's Ridge Loop trail

About a mile in, another trail branches off, offering the option of a detour to Glider Point. Glider Point is a steeper, more direct route that leads to Black Mountain’s lower, secondary peak first before making its way up to the summit.

Nighthawk trail connection to Miner's Ridge Loop trail

Continue along Miner’s Ridge Loop Trail until you reach the Nighthawk Trail junction. From there it’s a brief 0.8 mi. ascent to Black Mountain Summit.

Upon reaching the summit, you’ll immediately be struck by the towering cell towers. Relax and let them fade away into the background as you take a look around. Soon you’re able to take in the beauty of the surrounding mountains, including Mt. Woodson and Iron Mountain, visible in the distance, and the real payoff for this hike becomes clear.

View east towards Mt. Woodson from summit of Black Mountain

The Miner’s Ridge Loop Trail guides hikers along a winding path that gradually leads to the summit of Black Mountain. If it’s a quick, easy hike with big payoffs that you’re looking for, then you can’t do much better than Black Mountain.

Visiting Black Mountain Open Space Park is free of charge. The park is centrally located in San Diego and easily accessible. The trails are open to hikers, runners, and mountain bikers. You may also bring your dog, just be sure to keep it on a leash. There are several trailheads surrounding the peak and a variety of options for getting there, so you can’t go wrong.

My Experience Hiking Black Mountain Miner’s Ridge Loop Trail

We were surprised to find that we weren’t the only early birds, despite arriving at the trailhead at 7 am on a Monday. It’s a popular way for the locals around the area to start their day. At the summit, we ran into several hikers and a couple of mountain bikers. But with so many trailheads and trails leading to the summit, we only passed one other hiker on the trail before completing our hike.

There are many more interesting and challenging hikes in San Diego, but none have offered a view that compares to Black Mountain. It could have been the time of day that we arrived at the summit, or the scattered clouds and low angle of the sun. Whatever the circumstance, the views were stunning and truly worth the effort!

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