Parks and Rec

Take the Warrior Hike Challenge

Warrior Hike

Channel your inner warrior this Memorial Day weekend. Hike what’s considered the toughest trail in the county by joining the Warrior Hike challenge on El Cajon Mountain in El Capitan County Preserve Saturday, May 25.

County Parks held the first Warrior Hike in 2015. It now takes place twice a year on Memorial Day and Veterans Day weekends. It is free and open to all ages.

There are several levels to this “warrior” journey. Participants can choose their own adventure; navigating the length of trail that matches their individual interest and ability.

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: About 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: About 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.

Duration: Up to 7 hours | Start no later than 9 a.m.

SPECIAL OPS (Extremely Difficult):

New this year is a rare opportunity to really go the distance. Extend your Warrior trek another 1.2 miles with a guided hike into an ecologically sensitive site atop of the mountain. This area is usually closed to public access. Reservations for the special outing are required. It is open to the first 15 people to RSVP by email with their first and last name, and a phone number.

Duration: Up to 8 hours | Starts promptly at 7:15 a.m.

All hikers should bring ample water (1+ gallons for Warriors and Special Ops participants), and wear sturdy hiking boots. Sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, and a walking stick or trekking poles are also recommended.

Healthy refreshments are available at celebration stations, including the staging area at the base of the preserve, located of Wildcat Canyon Road at 13775 Blue Sky Ranch Road in Lakeside.

Park staff are always on site and along the trail to answer questions and lead groups.

The Warrior Hike is hosted in partnership with the San Diego County Parks Society, VALOR—a San Diego County employee resource group, the San Diego River Park Foundation and Resilient Squad.

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