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

A climb up sacred Tecate Peak

Climb a sacred peak for expansive vistas of both the U.S. and Mexico

Tecate cypress
Tecate cypress

Tecate Peak is a 3885-foot border sentinel, visible from both Baja California, Mexico, and from Southern California. The actual summit is less than a mile north of the border in California, with a service road that winds to expansive vistas of both countries and the Pacific Ocean.

Known as Kuuchamaa to the Kumeyaay, it has been a sacred site for Native Americans of northern Baja California and Southern California for hundreds of years. The summit and much of the northern flanks are on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) property. There is no official trail to the summit. From the gate, you hike up the service road, which can have restricted vehicle access because of road conditions or to protect the environment. Constructed in 1958, the road is a long series of switchbacks, with a steep 15 percent grade. Without the road, the hike would be difficult, given the rocky substrate and mixed chaparral and coastal sage scrub habitat.

The 2007 Harris Fire burned most of the Tecate cypress stands on the mountain.

The vegetation reflects the metavolcanic nature of the peninsular ranges, with alkaline clay soils derived from gabbro, a dark-colored plutonic rock rich in iron and magnesium. Huge boulders hug the side of the road; many still bear the red stains of fire retardant dropped during the 2007 Harris Fire, which burned most of the Tecate cypress stands on the mountain. This environment also supports the rare coastal California gnatcatcher and endangered Quino checkerspot butterfly.

At the summit is an unsightly array of towers, chain-link fences, and concrete foundations. A fire lookout station was once located here; now there are TV relay towers, but the views make up for the intrusion. On a clear day, you will get a good view of the divide between the U.S. and Mexico, the town of Tecate, mountains in Baja California, the Pacific Ocean, and the sparsely populated landscape of southeast San Diego County. Return the same way.

To learn more about the Kumeyaay, an optional side trip can be taken with the needed current documentation requirements to exit and re-enter the U.S. A parking lot on the U.S. side is available for a small fee, followed by a 15-minute walk from the border into Tecate, Mexico, to El Museo Comunitaria Kumiai (Kumeyaay Community Museum), in a charming structure designed and built by James Hubbell. Hours open: 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday; small fee.

Tecate Peak trail map

Tecate Peak

Distance from downtown San Diego: 40 miles. Allow 1 hour driving time (Tecate). Take SR-94 E to SR-188, the turnoff to Tecate, California, and the border crossing for Tecate, Baja California, Mexico. Drive south about 1.6 miles on SR-188 toward the border until there is a sign that reads, “International Border 15,000 feet.” Take a right (west) onto the dirt road just before this sign. It is also easy to get onto the wrong track, due to a maze of roads in the area. The road goes along the corrugated-metal border fence before turning northwest and beginning the climb up Tecate Peak. In about 2.8 miles you should arrive at a gate, which is usually open. There is parking along the road shoulder above or below the gate, but parking above runs the risk of returning to a locked gate. You are bound to run into the Border Patrol, and they are most often helpful and informative. 4WD vehicles are advisable because the road is either rough and rocky or loose and bumpy. If raining or just after, the dirt road can become impassible.

Hiking Length: Depending on where you park, 9–10 miles round trip (it is 4.6 miles from the gate to the summit).

Difficulty: Moderate. Elevation gain/loss 1500 feet. The gate is at 2350 feet. No facilities, water, or shade. Pack a windbreaker, as it is usually blowing at the top with trekking poles recommended due to the steep grade.

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

Previous article

Skateboarding toward a musical horizon

Urethane, the Lyrics, Belladon, Plosivs, Stephen Bishop
Tecate cypress
Tecate cypress

Tecate Peak is a 3885-foot border sentinel, visible from both Baja California, Mexico, and from Southern California. The actual summit is less than a mile north of the border in California, with a service road that winds to expansive vistas of both countries and the Pacific Ocean.

Known as Kuuchamaa to the Kumeyaay, it has been a sacred site for Native Americans of northern Baja California and Southern California for hundreds of years. The summit and much of the northern flanks are on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) property. There is no official trail to the summit. From the gate, you hike up the service road, which can have restricted vehicle access because of road conditions or to protect the environment. Constructed in 1958, the road is a long series of switchbacks, with a steep 15 percent grade. Without the road, the hike would be difficult, given the rocky substrate and mixed chaparral and coastal sage scrub habitat.

The 2007 Harris Fire burned most of the Tecate cypress stands on the mountain.

The vegetation reflects the metavolcanic nature of the peninsular ranges, with alkaline clay soils derived from gabbro, a dark-colored plutonic rock rich in iron and magnesium. Huge boulders hug the side of the road; many still bear the red stains of fire retardant dropped during the 2007 Harris Fire, which burned most of the Tecate cypress stands on the mountain. This environment also supports the rare coastal California gnatcatcher and endangered Quino checkerspot butterfly.

At the summit is an unsightly array of towers, chain-link fences, and concrete foundations. A fire lookout station was once located here; now there are TV relay towers, but the views make up for the intrusion. On a clear day, you will get a good view of the divide between the U.S. and Mexico, the town of Tecate, mountains in Baja California, the Pacific Ocean, and the sparsely populated landscape of southeast San Diego County. Return the same way.

To learn more about the Kumeyaay, an optional side trip can be taken with the needed current documentation requirements to exit and re-enter the U.S. A parking lot on the U.S. side is available for a small fee, followed by a 15-minute walk from the border into Tecate, Mexico, to El Museo Comunitaria Kumiai (Kumeyaay Community Museum), in a charming structure designed and built by James Hubbell. Hours open: 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday; small fee.

Tecate Peak trail map

Tecate Peak

Distance from downtown San Diego: 40 miles. Allow 1 hour driving time (Tecate). Take SR-94 E to SR-188, the turnoff to Tecate, California, and the border crossing for Tecate, Baja California, Mexico. Drive south about 1.6 miles on SR-188 toward the border until there is a sign that reads, “International Border 15,000 feet.” Take a right (west) onto the dirt road just before this sign. It is also easy to get onto the wrong track, due to a maze of roads in the area. The road goes along the corrugated-metal border fence before turning northwest and beginning the climb up Tecate Peak. In about 2.8 miles you should arrive at a gate, which is usually open. There is parking along the road shoulder above or below the gate, but parking above runs the risk of returning to a locked gate. You are bound to run into the Border Patrol, and they are most often helpful and informative. 4WD vehicles are advisable because the road is either rough and rocky or loose and bumpy. If raining or just after, the dirt road can become impassible.

Hiking Length: Depending on where you park, 9–10 miles round trip (it is 4.6 miles from the gate to the summit).

Difficulty: Moderate. Elevation gain/loss 1500 feet. The gate is at 2350 feet. No facilities, water, or shade. Pack a windbreaker, as it is usually blowing at the top with trekking poles recommended due to the steep grade.

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

Remembering Louis Procaccino

“He always had food in his pockets”
Next Article

At Windansea they will drop in on you

Concussion at San Clemente
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

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 From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — 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 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