the peaks of the San Diego challenge
VOLCAN MOUNTAIN – Elevation 5,353′ (1632 m)
This 5,353′ peak has views of a transitioning landscape, with views that extend to the Pacific Ocean and even Catalina Island on a clear day, and to Anza-Borrego and the Salton Sea to the east. It was considered as a potential site for the observatory that was eventually built on Mount Palomar, and you can still see the remains of the outpost built during the siting study. It's also home to a USPS Air Mail signal tower that dates back to the 1920's when such towers guided pilots across the country at night.
Recommended Six-Pack Route: Hiking Volcan Mountain – SoCalHiker
Distance: 5.1 miles; Vertical +/- 1,170 feet
CORTE MADERA – Elevation 4,633′ (1,412m)
A perfect introduction to the Pine Creek Wilderness, this hike takes you to what some describe as “San Diego's Half Dome.”
Recommended Six-Pack Route: Corte Madera Mountain Trail – SoCalHiker
Distance: 6.7 miles; Vertical +/- 1,469 feet
CUYAMACA PEAK – Elevation 6,512′ (1,985m)
San Diego's second highest peak, with views that on a clear day can stretch from Mexico to the Coronado Islands. Located in a State Park, dogs are only allowed on paved trails, and there happens to be one to the summit.
Recommended Six-Pack Route: Cuyamaca Highlands – Scott Turner Hikes
Distance: varies; Vertical +/- varies
HOT SPRINGS MOUNTAIN – Elevation 6,533′ (1991m)
At 6,533′ Hot Springs Mountain is the tallest in San Diego County, making it a must-hike peak for high-pointers. It's located on the Los Coyotes Reservation, which requires a $10 entrance fee.
Recommended Six-Pack Route: Hiking Hot Springs Mountain
Distance: 10.2 miles; Vertical +/- 2,118 feet
NOTE: The Los Coyotes Reservation will be closed August 8-13th for a private event.
HIGH POINT – Elevation 6,138′ (1871m)
The highest point on Mount Palomar is 6,138′ High Point, with a strenuous 13 mile hike to match.
Recommended Six-Pack Route: Hiking to High Point on Palomar Mountain
Distance: 13.8 miles; Vertical +/- 3,509 feet
EL CAJON MOUNTAIN – Elevation 3,675′ (1120m)
At 3,675′ El Cajon Mountain is not the tallest by far, but this 11 mile trek climbs 4,000 vertical feet, making it one of the toughest in San Diego.
Recommended Six-Pack Route: El Cajon Mountain (El Capitan) – Uphill Both Ways
Distance: 11 miles; Vertical +/- 4,000 feet
NOTE: El Cajon Mountain is closed during the month of August due to the extreme heat.
For 2023, Mount Woodson has been designated an optional alternate peak. If you choose, you can replace any of the six peaks above with Mount Woodson.
MOUNT WOODSON – Elevation 2,881′ (878 m)
Hike to the top of Mount Woodson and take your picture with the iconic Potato Chip rock.
Recommended Six-Pack Route: Mount Woodson Trail
Distance: 7.4 miles; Vertical +/- 2,109 feet