One of the little known facts about San Diego is that to locals it not only has its own “Half Dome” (Corte Madera Peak) but also its own “El Capitan” – El Cajon Mountain. While both of these peaks share a type of rock with the original mountains – exfoliated granite – and provide both hiking and climbing opportunities, the similarities end there. The more well-known fact about El Cajon Mountain, however, is that it is the “toughest” hike in San Diego County.
Fact: the best hike in San Diego County is one that most people aren’t going to want to do, and probably shouldn’t do, unless they are physically and mentally prepared. And, even better, here’s a supplemental fact about this hike: I had so much to say about this hike that I had to break up my comments into two posts. This hike involves traveling over rough terrain. It involves using a map and compass, or GPS unit. It involves scrambling and some bouldering. It involves not following a trail. It involves off-roading to a remote trailhead; and it involves committing a whole day to hiking in and hiking out. It involves exploring, and possibly breaking the law. It involves avoiding glowing orbs, and avoiding the Borrego Sandman (or men), if they exist. In short, the best hike in San Diego County is nothing short of an epic one-day adventure. This is precisely why this hike is the best hike in San Diego County: it is an adventure. What hike are we talking about? What I am talking about is the Goat Canyon Trestle Hike to the Carrizo Gorge, or if we are being formal, the Mortero Palms to Goat Canyon Traverse.
Corte Madera is a granite mountain in the Eastern portion of San Diego; and at 4,657 feet, it has a great view of the surrounding countryside. This is one of my favorite hikes in San Diego County because it’s not well traveled, and because it passes through a number of beautiful areas on the way to the summit. And, as I discovered the last time I climbed it, its register is a good look back to the past, as it contains notes from the last several years.