El Cajon Mountain
Land Ownership: Cleveland National Forest
Access Issues: Bolt Chopping & Rock Vandalism
Climbing: Multi-Pitch Sport and Trad
El Cajon Mountain is a multi pitch front-country sport climbing area with views all the way to the ocean. This area is located in Lakeside on the South slopes of El Cajon Mountain near the El Capitan Reservoir. El Cajon Mountain is an easily accessible climbing destination (all roads are paved), and the area offers a significant amount of climbing with a wide range of route grades. Most routes are fully bolted, though a number of them need a few pieces of gear to supplement them. Some high quality trad lines exist as well, so if you enjoy placing gear, bring a rack and you’ll likely have some of the crag’s gems all to yourself. The approach involves a 2 mile hike up 1,800 vertical feet of ever steepening. Get an early start to avoid having to do it in the hot sun.
When to Climb:
The main crag faces South and has little shade. Unfortunately, fires have burned any shade trees that previously gave some respite from the scorching sun. Heavy marine layer can make summer climbing possible, but plan on visiting this crag on the cooler Fall/Winter/Spring days for the best conditions.
From San Diego, take I-8 east or Hwy 52 East to Hwy 67. Go North a few miles to Mapleview Rd and turn right. Mapleview Rd eventually turns into Lake Jennings Park Rd. About 1.5 miles from Hwy 67, turn left onto El Monte Rd and drive 5.7 miles to the El Cajon Mtn parking area – an area with a wide dirt shoulder on the North side of the road. If you get to the El Capitan Reservoir gate, you’ve gone too far.
- The ACSD Pocket Guide is the best reference for El Cajon Mtn (ok, maybe we’re biased, but it really IS the best!) Available at REI (San Diego), www.gearcoop.com, Mesa Rim Climbing Center, and at ACSD Monthly Meetings
- San Diego County climbing guide by Dave Kennedy and Chris Hubbard.
- El Cajon Mtn on www.MountainProject.com is a great resource for route beta, photos, comments, etc.