I was excited to hike Black Mountain in San Diego over the holidays. I seemingly always underestimate popular San Diego hikes. Based on how popular it is, I didn’t think Potato Chip Rock would be too challenging-it was. Of course, Torrey Pines is steep but has great views.
Anyway, Black Mountain is fairly challenging based on the very steep, loose rock and rocky sections.
About Black Mountain in San Diego:
Black Mountain Open Space Park is made up from 2350 acres with sage-covered hills and canyons. There aren’t a lot of trees (if any), so it’s fairly easy to see where you are going and not get lost. It’s located in the Rancho Peñasquitos area of northern San Diego.
Black Mountain Peak itself is 1554 feet, and on a clear day, you’ll see downtown San Diego, Mexico, the ocean, and more.
My Experience at Black Mountain in San Diego:
We got to Black Mountain in San Diego around noon, the day before Christmas. It wasn’t too crowded, so we were excited to head up. San Diego happened to have a heat wave, and it was between 70-80 throughout the entire hike. I did feel guilty about that as the rest of the country had a cold front. But hiking in the heat reminded me, you definitely need to bring hydration. This is a long hike with almost no shade, so it’s important to cover your face. If you want to only hike to Black Mountain Peak, it will be about 4 miles roundtrip. Adding the miner’s trail, adds about 2.5 miles.
The start of Black Mountain in San Diego is steep. You start walking up and wonder how you are going to do that. Really, Black Mountain is only about 600 feet vertical from the beginning, but we also took the Miners Trail, which went down and back up. Looking back, do I recommend the Miners Trail at Black Mountain? If you want extra mileage, sure, but I didn’t find the view remarkable. I think the other side trails looked more interesting.
Miners Trail is a singletrack trail that goes around Black Mountain. There are very steep uphill and downhill. That isn’t what makes it challenging, though. On the uphill/downhill, there is a lot of loose rock. Finding good footing can be hard, and you need good trail shoes or boots.
After completing Miners Loop, we headed towards the Black Mountain summit. It’s only about .8 up to the top. The first tenth of a mile has you wondering: will it be like this the whole time? The answer is no. It becomes much less steep after that as it winds to the summit.
We reached the Black Mountain peak at mile 4 and spent some time enjoying the view. As mentioned, on the day we went, it was hot. There was also fog rolling in from the north, so it was fun to see how that progressed, and by the time we got home to Del Mar, it was at our house too.
Then we headed back down. We took a different way down, and I saw many people complain it dumps you out right in a neighborhood. I can’t say I was thrilled about that, especially because after going downhill for 2 miles, you have a steep uphill back to the end. But it was fine.
In all, I enjoyed Black Mountain in San Diego, but it was challenging. You definitely need hydration and good trail shoes. The views were good, and I would do it again.
You can see more hikes and trail runs here.
Questions for you:
Have you been to Black Mountain in San Diego?
What is your favorite hike in San Diego?