Mother Miguel Mountain (aka The Rock House)

Mother Miguel Mountain is a modest prominatory in the shadow of the much more impressive San Miguel Mountain (aka Mt Miguel). Since San Miguel Mountain is sadly not open to the public, Mother Miguel is one of the few easily accessible hikes with notable elevation gain in Chula Vista. This distinction, along with the photogenic Rock House (a large man made pile of rocks complete with flagpole) at the summit, make Mother Miguel Mountain a highly popular trail. Don’t expect to find solitude on this hike, but you will be rewarded with a great workout and fantastic views of the South Bay.

Currently, there are several different visible routes leading up the mountain, including a heavily eroded path that goes straight up the mountainside. This type of trail is prone to environmental damage and significant erosion. The US Fish and Wildlife Service (in conjunction with several local groups) has been slowly working to establish a more sustainable formal trail which incorporates switchbacks that cause less damage to the mountain’s fragile habitat. Hopefully we can look forward to some clear trail markers in the future, as currently its a little difficult to tell what the “correct” route is. We did our best to follow the course mapped out in CalTopo which appears to be at least close to what the final trail alignment will likely be. Just be aware that the sanctioned route may change in the future – please follow any trail signs which may appear in the future and don’t shortcut the switchbacks!

The trail began at the end of the cul-de-sac on Paseo Veracruz, right next to someone’s house.

We followed the path a short distance to a junction with a wide path where we found a metal gate.

There was a large, obvious trail leading straight ahead from the metal gate. This was one possible route, however from looking at the CalTopo map, it appears as though the preferred route is a narrower, single track just to the left of the gate.

We took the left fork, which led us beneath the power lines and merged with another trail coming in from the left. In the distance, we could see Sweetwater Reservoir.

The trail led around the flank of a small rise, then began to curve around towards a ravine.

Around .3 mile, we crossed a dirt utility road and continued along the single track on the opposite side.

The trail dropped down into a small ravine. A steep and eroded path led straight out of the depression and up the hill, but there was also a more easily traversed switchback to the right.

Once up the other side, we began to travel a series of long switchbacks.

As we ascended, we got some beautiful views of Sweetwater Reservoir in the northwest.

Around the 1 mile point, we came to a “T” junction with a steep, eroded path that led straight up the hillside and turned left to continue uphill.

The heavily eroded path continued straight up the mountainside, and many other hikers seemed to be taking that route. But there were also a series of switchbacks that crisscrossed the straight path. Besides being considerably gentler on the calves, the switchbacks form a much more sustainable route, so that’s the route we took.

Around 1.35 miles the steep incline subsided and the switchbacks ended. We could see Mount Miguel in the distance.

We made our way along the shoulder of the mountain and finally caught a glimpse of an American flag in the distance marking the summit. We also had a few moments of entertainment as the wind whipped up a little dirt devil on the trail ahead of us.

Then I noticed some movement in the distance out of the corner of my eye, and spotted a pair of coyotes traipsing along a distant hillside.

We watched the coyotes for a few minutes until they disappeared into the brush, then continued on our way.

It didn’t take us long to reach the top, where we found the “rock house,” an enormous mound of rocks piled up, supporting a flagpole.

We also had great views of the Sweetwater Reservoir, and the Pacific Ocean in the distance. We found some rocks to sit on and enjoy the scenery for a bit before heading back down.

View the full photo gallery

(Note: You can take the toll section of highway 125 for a more direct route, the directions below avoid the toll road).

Take 125 south to the Paradise Valley Road exit. Turn right onto Elkelton Place, then right onto Paradise Valley Road. After approximately .5 mile, turn left onto S Worthington Street. Continue as S Worthington Street turns into Sweetwater Road. Turn left onto Bonita Road, then take the next left onto San Miguel Road. Follow San Miguel Road for approximately .9 miles, then turn right onto Proctor Valley Road. Follow Proctor Valley Road for approximately .5 miles then turn left onto San Miguel Ranch Road. Continue as San Miguel Ranch Road turns into Mt Miguel Road, then turn left onto Paseo Veracruz. Follow Paseo Veracruz for approximately .2 mile and find the trailhead at the end of the street. Park along the street or at the nearby Mt San Miguel Park. map

Total Distance: 4.1 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Total Ascent: 1030 feet
Dog Friendly?: Leashed dogs allowed
Bike Friendly?: Bikes allowed
Facilities: None
Fees/Permits: None

For more information, visit:
View route or download GPX from CalTopo

One thought on “Mother Miguel Mountain (aka The Rock House)

  1. If you go all the way to the north end of the ridge, there is a nice handmade bench that someone has installed. There’s a lovely view of the Sweetwater Reservoir from there.