San Diego: Iron Mountain Trail

Tackle a heart-thumping 5.6-mile, out-and-back scramble over boulder fields to a 2,700-foot peak perched high above the coastal haze of the Pacific.

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Trail Facts

  • Distance: 4.5



Location: 32.9772033691406, -116.972831726074

Pass through rows of trees into chaparral slopes of Iron Mtn.


Location: 32.9774894714356, -116.965774536133

Enter zone of yucca blooms and fragrant wild sage still regenerating after the Cedar Fire of 10/03; look for softball-sized white-fungus puffballs mixed with orange and yellow wildflowers in meadow ahead


Location: 32.9772758483887, -116.959899902344

Straight @ 3-way; cross seasonal creekbed to begin ascent into rocky canyon of neon-violet Indian Warrior plants growing in black-ash soil


Location: 32.9776725769043, -116.952941894531

Reach saddle swathed in southern mountain misery shrubs (whose resinous foliage smells like witch hazel); peer through ponderosa pines for first views E into vast layers of Cleveland NF and Laguna Mtns.


Location: 32.9759254455566, -116.952033996582

Veer R @ 3-way, continue around E side of 2,696-ft. Iron Mountain


Location: 32.9738883972168, -116.952842712402

Silt-soiled path leads through false summit of big redrock boulders covered in tiny, black-cupped lichen


Location: 32.9734077453613, -116.955123901367

Zigzag up rocky terrain of white-and-black sage and wild irises


Location: 32.970703125, -116.955490112305

Solitary cone of Iron Mtn.; full-circle mountain vistas in E over to radiant Pacific with Coronado and Catalina Islands in W; to S, fingers of San Vicente Reservoir reach into the Barona Valley. Retrace route to car