Anchor ads are not supported on this page.

4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Corte Madera Mountain

Ascend and sign the peak register at the top of San Diego’s “Half Dome.”

A view of the imposing face of Corte Madera Mountain is impressive.
A view of the imposing face of Corte Madera Mountain is impressive.

Bring friends, as this is a trail less traveled. The route averages a 7 percent steady climb with short sections of 60 percent (stairs) at the 4588 peak before reaching the plateau to Corte Madera Mountain. Return is by the same route, so check your back trail for points of reference. It will look different with the downhill return much faster on this five-hour hike!

The trail starts directly across from the off-pavement parking and goes up to a Birds of Prey sign. Watching for traffic, cross to the unsigned gated Kernan Road. The first 20 feet of the trail ends with a drop-off to the road and is slippery because of loose soil. Squeezing around the gate may be a better option. Enjoy the oak-shaded dirt road for 0.5 mile and then continue in the northwest direction behind the signed garbage can onto the Espinosa Trail.

At 1.5 miles, look back over the view of the valley at the hiker’s gate before crossing the intersection of fire roads. This is the first view of the 300-foot-high precipice of Corte Madera Mountain just right and beyond the sign. Clearly marked are Espinosa Trail, Los Pinos Peak (closed vertical access road) and the Corral Canyon OHV Area. An added wooden sign labeled Corte Madera Mt. points to the right, where you continue on a fire road until coming to a T junction. Directly across and to the right of a slab of granodiorite rocks, another Birds of Prey sign marks the Corte Madera Mountain Trail. The trail narrows with manzanita, sage, rocks, Coulter pines, and oaks making it easy to follow but sometimes a challenge to see at a distance.

Sponsored
Sponsored

What has been a steady uphill becomes steep to near a 60 percent grade up and over the 4588-foot peak. This is where trekking poles and/or hands help scramble up and over rocks and loose soil. Take a break and bring your cameras out for spectacular views of Los Pinos Mt., Long Valley Peak, Corte Madera Valley, and the Pine Valley Bridge over Secret Canyon. Continue past the split rock and start down. Once descending past a huge boulder at your left shoulder, the last mile seems effortless. The trail is easy to follow with one Y junction where you veer left. The right leads up to private property in Corte Madera Valley. There are a couple of granodiorite slabs where cairns help your confidence in continuing on the trail to Corte Madera Mountain peak.

The current peak guestbook, made by Anna (age 9), is in a coffee can surrounded by and weighted down by rocks on the highest point. The 360-degree view of mountain ranges and valleys is remarkable on a clear day. To the south in Baja California is the Sierra Juarez plateau with the Santa Catalina and San Clemente islands to the west; east has a view of Los Pinos Mountain and the Espinosa Trail.

Distance from downtown San Diego: 64 miles. Allow 90 minutes driving time.

Directions: (Corral Canyon OHV area) From CA-163 N, exit onto I-8 E. Take the Buckman Springs Rd. exit and turn south for approximately 3 miles. Turn west into the Corral Canyon OHV area, onto Corral Canyon Rd./Morena Stokes Valley Rd. Drive 4.8 miles, just past a green gate (Kernan Rd.) and hairpin curve to park off pavement on the east side (room for 3–4 cars). No facilities. An Adventure Pass is required.

Hiking length: Approximately 7 miles.

Difficulty: Moderately strenuous with 1800-foot elevation loss/gain. Trekking poles recommended for steep sections. The trail is mostly narrow and rocky once leaving the fire road.

The latest copy of the Reader

Please enjoy this clickable Reader flipbook. Linked text and ads are flash-highlighted in blue for your convenience. To enhance your viewing, please open full screen mode by clicking the icon on the far right of the black flipbook toolbar.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

The Mental Bar brightens the neighborhood with lattes

Encanto coffee shop serves caffeinated beverages with a side of wellness
Next Article

The Mental Bar brightens the neighborhood with lattes

Encanto coffee shop serves caffeinated beverages with a side of wellness
A view of the imposing face of Corte Madera Mountain is impressive.
A view of the imposing face of Corte Madera Mountain is impressive.

Bring friends, as this is a trail less traveled. The route averages a 7 percent steady climb with short sections of 60 percent (stairs) at the 4588 peak before reaching the plateau to Corte Madera Mountain. Return is by the same route, so check your back trail for points of reference. It will look different with the downhill return much faster on this five-hour hike!

The trail starts directly across from the off-pavement parking and goes up to a Birds of Prey sign. Watching for traffic, cross to the unsigned gated Kernan Road. The first 20 feet of the trail ends with a drop-off to the road and is slippery because of loose soil. Squeezing around the gate may be a better option. Enjoy the oak-shaded dirt road for 0.5 mile and then continue in the northwest direction behind the signed garbage can onto the Espinosa Trail.

At 1.5 miles, look back over the view of the valley at the hiker’s gate before crossing the intersection of fire roads. This is the first view of the 300-foot-high precipice of Corte Madera Mountain just right and beyond the sign. Clearly marked are Espinosa Trail, Los Pinos Peak (closed vertical access road) and the Corral Canyon OHV Area. An added wooden sign labeled Corte Madera Mt. points to the right, where you continue on a fire road until coming to a T junction. Directly across and to the right of a slab of granodiorite rocks, another Birds of Prey sign marks the Corte Madera Mountain Trail. The trail narrows with manzanita, sage, rocks, Coulter pines, and oaks making it easy to follow but sometimes a challenge to see at a distance.

Sponsored
Sponsored

What has been a steady uphill becomes steep to near a 60 percent grade up and over the 4588-foot peak. This is where trekking poles and/or hands help scramble up and over rocks and loose soil. Take a break and bring your cameras out for spectacular views of Los Pinos Mt., Long Valley Peak, Corte Madera Valley, and the Pine Valley Bridge over Secret Canyon. Continue past the split rock and start down. Once descending past a huge boulder at your left shoulder, the last mile seems effortless. The trail is easy to follow with one Y junction where you veer left. The right leads up to private property in Corte Madera Valley. There are a couple of granodiorite slabs where cairns help your confidence in continuing on the trail to Corte Madera Mountain peak.

The current peak guestbook, made by Anna (age 9), is in a coffee can surrounded by and weighted down by rocks on the highest point. The 360-degree view of mountain ranges and valleys is remarkable on a clear day. To the south in Baja California is the Sierra Juarez plateau with the Santa Catalina and San Clemente islands to the west; east has a view of Los Pinos Mountain and the Espinosa Trail.

Distance from downtown San Diego: 64 miles. Allow 90 minutes driving time.

Directions: (Corral Canyon OHV area) From CA-163 N, exit onto I-8 E. Take the Buckman Springs Rd. exit and turn south for approximately 3 miles. Turn west into the Corral Canyon OHV area, onto Corral Canyon Rd./Morena Stokes Valley Rd. Drive 4.8 miles, just past a green gate (Kernan Rd.) and hairpin curve to park off pavement on the east side (room for 3–4 cars). No facilities. An Adventure Pass is required.

Hiking length: Approximately 7 miles.

Difficulty: Moderately strenuous with 1800-foot elevation loss/gain. Trekking poles recommended for steep sections. The trail is mostly narrow and rocky once leaving the fire road.

Comments
Sponsored

The latest copy of the Reader

Please enjoy this clickable Reader flipbook. Linked text and ads are flash-highlighted in blue for your convenience. To enhance your viewing, please open full screen mode by clicking the icon on the far right of the black flipbook toolbar.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Thunderheads to the east, add native bulbs to your garden

July is our driest month
Next Article

San Diego lifeguards yelled into megaphone and P.A. system 24K times July 4 week

Can't tip them, but try giving them food
Comments
Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories Fishing Report — What’s getting hooked from ship and shore From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town The Gonzo Report — Making the musical scene, or at least reporting from it Letters — Our inbox Movies@Home — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Theater — On stage in San Diego this week Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close

Anchor ads are not supported on this page.

This Week’s Reader This Week’s Reader