Mountain hiking in San Diego County? Thanks to the Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeño Indians, hikers can experience the great outdoors and star-filled skies from San Diego County’s highest peak, Hot Springs Mountain.
Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeño Indians reservation is located between the Cleveland National Forest and the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park 70 miles northeast of San Diego near Warner Springs. This pristine, forested mountain terrain is open to the public for hiking, biking, cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing. Throughout the year, special events such as organized runs, star parties and Earth Day celebrations take place.
After paying a $10 cash-only day-use fee, hikers begin a 10-mile trek to the summit of Hot Springs Mountain at 6,533 feet above sea level. The first two miles are steep and then level out for an elevation gain of 2,417 feet. Near the end, there is a ladder-assisted climb up a rock outcropping past an old fire tower. Those who summit are rewarded with 360 panoramic views that stretch to the Pacific Ocean and San Diego some 70 miles to the west. Winter months can see snow that lasts into May.
From Warner Springs, take CA 79 to Camino San Ignacio. In 5 miles, visitors will reach the ranger station where they can pay the day-use fee. The gate opens at 8 a.m.
Overnight camping at the designated campground will be permitted in the near future with a reservation. Sites are unimproved with no facilities beyond a portable toilet near the entrance of the campground. Camping reservations will be $30 a night per tent or RV (no hook-ups).