Despite being only an hour and a half drive from downtown San Diego (plus a little hiking), hiking Corte Madera Mountain feels like an adventure into a remote landscape. Hidden away in a Cleveland National Forest, the mountain is popular with hikers, climbers and off-road enthusiasts seeking solitude and adventure.
The hike to the summit of Corte Madera Mountain is a 6.8 mile round trip, offering stunning views of the 350-foot rock face of Corte Madera and of the surrounding mountains. The hike starts on Espinosa Trail and continues 1.1 miles to a junction with Los Pinos Road and Corte Madera Road (GPS: 32.747521, -116.575392). Head north along Los Pinos Road for 0.4 miles to the trailhead for Corte Madera Trail (GPS: 32.750590, -116.574107), which continue for 1.7 miles to the Corte Madera summit.
Raptors such as prairie falcons, peregrine falcons, and golden eagles regularly nest in the mountains cliffs in the spring, seasonal closures may be in effect. If you plan to hike to the summit, it’s probably worth calling the Cleveland National Forest ranger station at 858-673-6180 to check wither they area has been closed for nesting.
If you’re looking for offroad adventure after the hike, the road at the trailhead, Los Pinos Road, at the trailhead continues up the mountain to a crossroads that serves as the gateway to Corral Canyon OHV area, a network of offroading trails popular with motorcyclists, ATV and truck/Jeep enthusiasts. If you head right at the crossroads, the rough road will bring you to a firetower that is open to vistors and offers stunning 360 views to the surrounding wilderness.