Parks and Rec

Take the Warrior Hike Challenge

Honor our veterans’ service by enjoying the peace and freedom of a great hike this Veterans Day weekend.

The San Diego County Parks & Recreation Department will hold its bi-annual Warrior Hike challenge, an event for beginners and well-seasoned hikers, on Saturday, Nov. 10 at El Capitan Preserve in Lakeside.

County Parks’ Warrior Hike Challenge launched in 2015 as a way to celebrate the athleticism and mental stamina that’s required to climb what’s arguably the toughest hike in San Diego County – El Cajon Mountain in the El Capitan County Preserve.

Participants can choose their own adventure by selecting one of three challenge levels based on interest, time and ability. “Celebration stations” sit at the 1-mile and 3-mile turnaround points. These pit stops will have healthy refreshments. Extreme hikers can push their limits to climb to the summit for a 12-mile trek through the scenic preserve.

Boot Camp (Moderate):
Families and beginning hikers will enjoy a quick, 1-mile uphill jaunt to the ridge for a beautiful view of eastern San Diego. This trail is 2 miles round-trip and is open to all ages.
Duration: Approx. 1 hour | Start between 7 and 11 a.m.

Recon (Moderate-Difficult):
Skilled hikers can continue to the next peak for just over 6 miles round-trip. This hike is best suited for teens and adults in good shape.
Duration: Approx. 3 hours | Start between 7 and 11 a.m.

Warrior (Difficult):
This trek is not for the faint of heart or ability. Warriors will hike 12 miles, traversing multiple inclines and declines with several hundred feet of elevation gain and loss. Be like this local Warrior – who has hiked to and from the summit 100+ times.
Duration: Up to 7 hours | Start between 7 and 9 a.m.

El Capitan logo

This event is free and registration is not required.

Hikers should bring ample water (at least one gallon for warriors) and wear sturdy hiking boots. Sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, and a walking stick or poles are also recommended.

Park staff will be on site and along the trail to answer questions and lead groups.

El Capitan is located at 13775 Blue Sky Ranch Road in Lakeside. Parking will be limited at the trailhead. Additional parking is available across Wildcat Canyon Road at Oakoasis Preserve, located at 12620 Wildcat Canyon Road.

For more information, call (619) 561-0580.

Michelle Mowad is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact