The Frequent Flyer's Mountain

Hike San Miguel Mountain in San Diego

If you've ever landed at the San Diego International Airport, you've likely circled around San Miguel Mountain before touching down. At 2,559 feet, San Miguel isn't a prominent mountain, but hiking it is a good challenge. The 5-mile round-trip journey is steep all the way until the summit, and exposed, so get an early start. After cresting the first steep climb you may think you've arrived at the peak; an American flag sits atop a large mound. Congratulations, you're halfway there! The true summit is still further up, marked by radio towers. The towers aren't pretty, but the coastal view you'll get makes up for it. To the west, you'll get a glimpse of San Diego Bay and Coronado, connected by the impressive 2-mile long curving San Diego-Coronado Bridge. To the south is Lower Otay Lake, an alluring presence on a warm day. A tip: If you get an early start and time your summit experience for sunrise, the views from up here are stunning as the rays beam over San Diego Bay.

From San Diego, take CA-94 east to CA-125 and go south. Take the E. H Street exit. Turn left on E. H Street and continue onto Proctor Valley Rd. Make a left on Coastal Hills Drive. Turn left on Butterfly Way. The trailhead begins on your left, through a gate. Early morning starts are recommended as this hike is exposed. Be cautious of rattlesnakes, especially during hot parts of the day. Dog-friendly! Photo by serapio.

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