Anza Borrego

Hike to the Top of Hot Springs Mountain

Fire-Watch tower on Hot Springs Mountain

Fire-Watch tower on Hot Springs Mountain

At an Elevation of 6533 feet/ 1991 meters, Hot Springs Mountain has the distinction of being the tallest mountain in San Diego. It tops San Diego’s next highest peak, Cuyamaca Mountain, by a mere twenty one feet. The amazing thing about Hot Springs Mountain, located on the Los Coyotes reservation, is that the peak is accessible by a high clearance vehicle preferably with 4-Wheel Drive.

For our ascent, we chose to hike up the old jeep trail leaving our vehicle at the campground 2000 feet below the summit. Large fields of yellow wildflowers and daisies lined the trail as we trekked upwards. The cloudless, blue sky beckoned us further and we soon found ourselves in a forest of black oak and Coulter pine.

Finally after four miles of hiking we caught a glimpse of the old wood fire-watch tower on the west summit. Once at the top I chose to climb up into the tower to enjoy the view. As the stairs and floorboards creaked and moved beneath me I realized the tower is best left alone due to its’ dilapidated state. Surprised

Still the 360′ view was incredible, and I was able to see the Anza Borrego Desert to the south and what I believe was snow covered Mt San Jacinto to the north.

We enjoyed a light lunch at the top before heading back down the trail. Next time I am thinking, bottle of red wine to watch the sunset, driving up in the Land Cruiser of course. Laughing

For reference here is a list of the top 10 mountain peaks in San Diego

Rank Peak Name ft m
1. Hot Springs Mountain 6533 1991
2. Cuyamaca Peak 6512 1985
3. Mount Laguna 6378 1944
4. Mount Laguna-West Peak 6299 1920
5. Monument Peak 6271 1911
6. Wooded Hill 6223 1897
7. Stephenson Peak 6200+ 1890+
8. Combs Peak 6193 1888
9. Hays Peak 6160+ 1878+
10. San Ysidro Mountain 6147 1874

You can check out some of our pictures of Hot Springs Mountain here.