Quantcast
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

Climb a mini peak in rural East County

Donohoe Mountain is surrounded by a multitude of trails

Erosion has exposed a rocky summit
Erosion has exposed a rocky summit

Tucked into the foothills of Otay Mountain, this unassuming peaklet provides a quick getaway if you have just a couple of hours but want to escape the crowds and enjoy views of mountains near and far. As part of the Bureau of Land Management’s Sycamore Canyon recreation area, Donohoe Mountain is surrounded by a multitude of trails, providing the hiker with options for extending the trip described below if a longer walk is desired.

A western fence lizard keeps watch on his territory

From the parking area, walk around the gate and pause a moment to read the sign describing the rules and regulations, as well as information about the endangered Quino checkerspot butterfly that lives in this habitat. Follow the dirt road west and then southwest, and in about 0.3 mile pass another road on the right. Continue straight, noting the prominent hill in the foreground to the right of the road. This is Donohoe Mountain, and your route to the top will be via the southeast ridge. Pass through a second gate and in 0.5 mile when at the base of the peak, leave the road and start climbing in a northwesterly direction up the slope.

A few wildlife trails traverse the hill, which can be followed for short distances but ultimately fade out, so just pick the best way up through the brush. Along the way you’ll encounter several familiar chaparral plants common to lower elevations, including laurel sumac, a large shrub with long, folded leaves and adorned with cream-colored flowers resembling miniature trees. Another abundant plant is flat-top buckwheat, a rounded shrub with dense clusters of white flowers that turn a distinctive rust color by fall and remain on the plant much of the year. The flowers are prized by honeybees and other insects, and the seeds were historically used by Native Americans and ground into flour. Today, the seeds are a popular food source for animals. Chamise is scattered about the slope, a hardy shrub of the rose family that is the most abundant plant of the chaparral and can be identified by small clusters of dark green needle-like leaves and creamy white flowers in late spring.

As you near the summit plateau, the slope eases up a bit and soon you’ll notice outcroppings of rocks that mark the high point of Donohoe Mountain. You have now come just under a mile from the trailhead. Take a break and enjoy the panoramic views – Otay Mountain looms large to the west/southwest, the rocky summits of Lyons Peak, Mother Grundy Peak, and White Mountain dominate the north/northeast skyline, San Miguel Mountain is the large peak topped with towers to the northwest, and the small town of Engineer Springs sits nestled in the valley below to the east, with the grey ribbon of highway 94 winding its way toward Campo and beyond.

From the top of the peak, you can see various trails below, and for a longer hike, one could descend via the far end of the mountain and pick up one of the paths to make a loop back to the trailhead. Otherwise, retrace your steps across the summit and once again drop down the slope in a southeasterly direction, exercising caution as the footing is slippery in some places. Meet the road at 1.4 miles, turn left (northeast), pass through the gate, and reach the trailhead, gate, sign, and your vehicle at just under 2 miles.

DONOHOE MOUNTAIN

Climb a mini peak in rural East County

Donohoe Mountain Trail map

Driving directions: (Dulzura/Engineer Springs) From CA-94 in Engineer Springs, turn south onto Marron Valley Road (labeled Cottonwood Creek Road on some maps). Follow this road past residences about 0.7 mile to the junction with the unmarked, gated Donohoe Spur Road on the right. Park on the shoulder, being careful not to block the gate or any nearby driveways. There is parking available for 3-4 vehicles. No facilities. Trailhead GPS: N32.62325, W116.77120. Hiking length: 2 miles round trip. Allow 2 hours hiking time. Difficulty: Moderate, with a section of off-trail/bushwhacking. Elevation gain/loss up to 650 feet. Donohoe Mountain can be visited year-round; however, high temperatures during the summer months may necessitate early morning or late afternoon/evening hikes.

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

Previous article

When it's too hot for soup at Pho Ca Dao

Summery dishes fit for outdoor dining on a summer day in Mission Valley
Erosion has exposed a rocky summit
Erosion has exposed a rocky summit

Tucked into the foothills of Otay Mountain, this unassuming peaklet provides a quick getaway if you have just a couple of hours but want to escape the crowds and enjoy views of mountains near and far. As part of the Bureau of Land Management’s Sycamore Canyon recreation area, Donohoe Mountain is surrounded by a multitude of trails, providing the hiker with options for extending the trip described below if a longer walk is desired.

A western fence lizard keeps watch on his territory

From the parking area, walk around the gate and pause a moment to read the sign describing the rules and regulations, as well as information about the endangered Quino checkerspot butterfly that lives in this habitat. Follow the dirt road west and then southwest, and in about 0.3 mile pass another road on the right. Continue straight, noting the prominent hill in the foreground to the right of the road. This is Donohoe Mountain, and your route to the top will be via the southeast ridge. Pass through a second gate and in 0.5 mile when at the base of the peak, leave the road and start climbing in a northwesterly direction up the slope.

A few wildlife trails traverse the hill, which can be followed for short distances but ultimately fade out, so just pick the best way up through the brush. Along the way you’ll encounter several familiar chaparral plants common to lower elevations, including laurel sumac, a large shrub with long, folded leaves and adorned with cream-colored flowers resembling miniature trees. Another abundant plant is flat-top buckwheat, a rounded shrub with dense clusters of white flowers that turn a distinctive rust color by fall and remain on the plant much of the year. The flowers are prized by honeybees and other insects, and the seeds were historically used by Native Americans and ground into flour. Today, the seeds are a popular food source for animals. Chamise is scattered about the slope, a hardy shrub of the rose family that is the most abundant plant of the chaparral and can be identified by small clusters of dark green needle-like leaves and creamy white flowers in late spring.

As you near the summit plateau, the slope eases up a bit and soon you’ll notice outcroppings of rocks that mark the high point of Donohoe Mountain. You have now come just under a mile from the trailhead. Take a break and enjoy the panoramic views – Otay Mountain looms large to the west/southwest, the rocky summits of Lyons Peak, Mother Grundy Peak, and White Mountain dominate the north/northeast skyline, San Miguel Mountain is the large peak topped with towers to the northwest, and the small town of Engineer Springs sits nestled in the valley below to the east, with the grey ribbon of highway 94 winding its way toward Campo and beyond.

From the top of the peak, you can see various trails below, and for a longer hike, one could descend via the far end of the mountain and pick up one of the paths to make a loop back to the trailhead. Otherwise, retrace your steps across the summit and once again drop down the slope in a southeasterly direction, exercising caution as the footing is slippery in some places. Meet the road at 1.4 miles, turn left (northeast), pass through the gate, and reach the trailhead, gate, sign, and your vehicle at just under 2 miles.

DONOHOE MOUNTAIN

Climb a mini peak in rural East County

Donohoe Mountain Trail map

Driving directions: (Dulzura/Engineer Springs) From CA-94 in Engineer Springs, turn south onto Marron Valley Road (labeled Cottonwood Creek Road on some maps). Follow this road past residences about 0.7 mile to the junction with the unmarked, gated Donohoe Spur Road on the right. Park on the shoulder, being careful not to block the gate or any nearby driveways. There is parking available for 3-4 vehicles. No facilities. Trailhead GPS: N32.62325, W116.77120. Hiking length: 2 miles round trip. Allow 2 hours hiking time. Difficulty: Moderate, with a section of off-trail/bushwhacking. Elevation gain/loss up to 650 feet. Donohoe Mountain can be visited year-round; however, high temperatures during the summer months may necessitate early morning or late afternoon/evening hikes.

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

NPR Livestream: The Dears, To Tame a Wild Tongue Charla (Talk), Cinema Under the Stars: Midnight In Paris

Events July 16-July 17, 2020
Next Article

Peter Sprague digs his new livestream concerts

“We had to crawl through bushes and we hit some cactus, of course.”
Comments
3

This posting is fouled up. The reference block for it is that of Goodan Ranch/Sycamore Canyon Preserve, a completely different place, and miles from this hike. Dulzura isn't Poway! Whether the error came from the Canyoneers, or originated at the Reader, it needs to be fixed.

Dec. 19, 2018

Dictionary Hill Open Preserve is still available - multiple entrance points, could take you anywhere from seven to two miles to get to the peak, no benches at the top but you get to see the ocean from 20+ miles away.

http://hikingsdcounty.com/dictionary-hill-open-space-preserve/

Dec. 19, 2018

Visduh, there is another Sycamore Canyon besides the one in Poway, the one referenced in the article above near Dulzura: http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=32.62528,-116.78664&z=14&t=T

Jan. 3, 2019

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows 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 Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search 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 Waterfront — All things ocean 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