El Cajon Mountain – Mar 3, 2012

Feeling a little antsy on a Saturday (when I should have been skiing, clearly), I took a quick hike up to El Cajon Mountain.   I’d never done the hike before, so it was a great chance to see a new part of San Diego.

It was 12:20pm when I started the hike and about 80 degrees, so a late start on a hot day.  The guide books suggest around 6 hours for the 11 mile roundtrip from the staging lot on Wildcat Canyon Road to the peak, and generally refer to it is a “strenuous” hike.  All I knew was that it was hot (ish), so I took lots of water.

As a quick summary of the hike, I’d call it hot — you could really feel the 80 degrees, and there was little shade — and surprisingly strenuous — with much harder climbs than I would have expected.  I did the round trip in 4:15, including two stops for food and a 0.4m R/T side trail up to an old radio tower, but the biggest slowdown was the heat.  I don’t think I drank enough and spent the last hour feeling a bit wonky.  Yes, that’s the technical term.  I definitely recommend taking more water than you think you’ll need, and drinking all of it.  I finished with water left over, and that was just silly.


  • Great climbs (good exercise and training) totalling about 4,000′
  • Nice views in all directions
  • Not that crowded


  • Hot and shadeless
  • Surprisingly bad signage

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