Hiking El Cajon Mountain near San Diego, CA - Backpacker

San Diego: El Cajon Mountain

Rock-scrambling and long-range vistas highlight this hardy 11.2-mile out-and-back up a much photographed but rarely climbed East County peak.
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Trail Facts

  • Distance: 9.1
  • Miles from city center: 27



Location: 32.9126205444336, -116.884300231934

Walk E on Blue Sky Ranch Rd. up gradual incline


Location: 32.9126014709473, -116.879203796387

Continue past ranch complex, looping S around open area


Location: 32.9116401672363, -116.877601623535

L @ Y from official trailhead; follow short, steep switchbacks over hill


Location: 32.9122314453125, -116.873497009277

L @ T onto old mining road; wrap S around bald-capped peak ahead; in .5 mi., reach small summit where El Capitan (south brow of El Cajon) becomes visible


Location: 32.9134292602539, -116.859718322754

Reach shoulder between two unnamed peaks


Location: 32.912670135498, -116.84700012207

Scramble up 600+ ft. of rugged, rocky incline to enjoy views S into the patchwork plains of the San Diego River Valley


Location: 32.9158096313477, -116.841003417969

R @ Y along top of second saddle; spur trail to L leads to mines


Location: 32.9189987182617, -116.826698303223

Pass abandoned jeep with water jug stash for emergency use; terrain is stony and exposed as trail climbs


Location: 32.9162483215332, -116.826599121094

Go R @ 4-way and scramble through thick chaparral and jumbo-sized boulders for fi nal push uphill


Location: 32.9149703979492, -116.820098876953

Rounded summit of El Cajon Mtn. (3,675 ft.): Vistas stretch from hazy Pacific blues past El Capi tan Reservoir into rolling Cuyamaca Mountains. Look for climbers on headwall before retracing route to car

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