Hiking Iron Mountain, Poway, CA

Iron Mountain is near Poway, CA, which is near San Diego, CA. These mountains are on the edge of the western edge of of serious mountains about 10 miles away, but are great for afternoon hikes. After I arrived in San Diego and got checked into the hotel, I was at the trailhead about 30 minutes later.

Summary: Roundtrip mileage 5.7 miles (2.98 up, 2.72 down), net altitude gain 1088 ft. Started at 1530, down at 1800.

The parking area is across the intersection of CA 67 and Poway Road. There is a decent sized parking lot, with restrooms. There is no water there, so be sure to fill up your water bottles before coming to the trail head.

You get a good view of Iron Mountain from the trailhead. As you look at the high point, there is a ridge running down to a secondary summit. That ridge is what you switchback up to get to the top.

There is a neat “tunnel” through the trees near the start of the hike.

The first part of the hike is on a scraped road.

There is a branch in the trail that loops a bit to the south, and then reconnects right at the foot of the mountain. Taking the south loop is the longer path by 0.25 miles (so it would add 0.5 miles if you went that way both up and down). I took the south branch on the way up, and the north branch coming back down. Both trails run through a band of low trees.

Past where the trails reconnect, the trail becomes quite rocky, and you get to do some stairstepping. As you come up the shoulder of Iron Mountain, you also start to get some views, including part of the trail you walked up.

One note about online resources: This sign was at the halfway point of the hike. I did a little research last night, and there was very little online about several of these hikes. The bottom line to me is that there are thousands of nice trails to walk, but it’s kind of hard to find them if you are arriving from out of town. I have some more targets for later!

The trail goes around the east side of Iron Mountain, has some switchbacks, and then ends up on the ridge below the secondary summit. From there, it gets very rocky and steep.

This is looking at the summit from the bottom of the ridge.

At the top! This is looking south, at San Vicente Lake.

This is looking southwest of the mountain. The mountains to the left are Mission Trail Regional Park (the tallest one is Cowles Peak), and moving right you see downtown, San Diego Bay, and Point Loma.

This is looking west north west at Mount Woodson. I hiked Woodson a couple years ago.

Finally, these are looking northeast at the next peak over, and the east towards El Capitan and El Cajon Peak (on my list for this area!).

This was a very enjoyable way to spend part of an afternoon. I was happy at how crowded the trail was. I saw probably 80 people on the way up and down. There were a number of people running the trail, and one guy trying to mountain bike it, but most were hiking. There was a small group of Cub and Webelos Scouts, so that was neat! A number of people had dogs. Total wildlife was one rabbit, and two small skink-sized lizards.

This is the hike path overlaid on Google Earth to give you an idea of the vegetation.

Here is the path overlaid on a topographic map for terrain.

And finally, here is the altitude plot. A pretty typical up and down out and back!

The temperature was in the low 70s when I started, and in the low 60s at the end. There was a decent breeze at the top that made it a bit cool. On the way back, there were three hot air balloons off to the northwest.

Great hike!

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3 Responses to “Hiking Iron Mountain, Poway, CA”

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