Parks and Rec

Take the Warrior Hike Challenge

Hikers trek through El Capitan Preserve.

Celebrate Veterans Day weekend with an unforgettable hike to the top of San Diego’s El Capitan. Channel your inner warrior by heading out on County Parks and Recreation’s second annual Veterans Day Warrior Hike challenge at El Capitan County Preserve on Saturday, Nov. 12.

There are three levels to this hike, named in honor of veterans’ sacrifice and service. The “Boot Camp” level will give families and beginners a chance to enjoy a one hour, 1-mile walk up to the beautiful ridgeline where they can take in a breathtaking view of eastern San Diego County.

More skilled hikers can soldier on to the next peak to enjoy the “Recon” level, a roughly 6-mile round-trip hike that can take two to three hours. This hike is best suited for teens and adults in good shape.

And if you still have some fuel in the tank, the “Warrior” level hike will let the most skilled hikers continue to the top of El Capitan, also known as El Cajon Mountain. This roughly 10- to 12-mile hike is not for the faint of heart or ability. It includes multiple inclines and declines covering several hundred feet of changing elevation. This is a difficult hike that can take up to seven hours to complete.

The Boot Camp and Recon hikes start anytime between 8 and 11 a.m. The Warrior hike starts promptly at 8 a.m.

All hikers should bring plenty of water—at least one gallon for the Warrior-level hike—and wear sturdy hiking boots. Unseasonably warm weather is forecast for Saturday, and the trail provides little shade, so take precautions to protect yourself from the heat.

County parks staff will be on hand to answer questions and guide tours. Healthy refreshments will be available at the 1- and 3-mile turnaround points.

El Capitan Preserve is located at 13775 Blue Sky Ranch Rd., 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, and at Louis Stelzer County Park, located at 11470 Wildcat Canyon Road.

For more information, call (858) 966-1331.

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