Viejas Mountain

The rugged, triangular peak of Viejas Mountain rises just north of Interstate 8 in Alpine. The trail up the western flank of the mountain is a steep and no-nonsense affair through thick chaparral brush with zero shade. This is not a hike for hot summer days, but makes for a fantastic early morning workout or winter excursion. The climb is steep, but the unobstructed views along the trail and 360 degree vantage from the summit makes the effort more than worthwhile.

We found the trailhead across the road from the parking area. A small break in the fence with a worn hiker icon sticker indicated our starting point.2016_viejas-mountain-dsc_1773-edit

The trail began climbing immediately up the mountainside.2016_viejas-mountain-dsc_1776-edit

Since we were heading almost due east in the early morning, the sun was pretty much right in our faces. But with the lack of shade on this trail, hiking in the cool morning was still preferable.2016_viejas-mountain-dsc_1804-edit

The grade was fairly steep, and it wasn’t long before we found ourselves pausing to catch our breath and take in our surroundings. The views had been great from the parking area, and they only improved with every step up the mountain.2016_viejas-mountain-dsc_1788-pano-edit

The trail was rocky but the dirt was relatively hard-packed, so we didn’t have too much trouble with our footing while going uphill. With the steep grade however, I anticipated that the downhill trek might be a little more challenging.2016_viejas-mountain-dsc_1809

We were surround by a thick carpet of chaparral. While the trail was well worn and easy to follow, it was pretty much impossible to make out except right in front of you. Looking up the mountainside, it was completely obscured by the thick brush.2016_viejas-mountain-dsc_1871

We climbed steadily up until right around the 1 mile mark. Here, the trail leveled out briefly. Once again, we paused for a brief rest and to admire the views. We had the trail to ourselves at this point, and once we stopped moving, we were surrounded by complete and total silence, interrupted only by the occasional buzzing of insects.2016_viejas-mountain-dsc_1868

We continued on, and soon found ourselves heading uphill again.2016_viejas-mountain-dsc_1875-edit

Around 1.3 miles, we found a small overlook with a view of the Viejas Resort and Casino in the east below.2016_viejas-mountain-dsc_1893-pano-edit

From here, we had one more short climb to the top of a ridge.2016_viejas-mountain-dsc_1899

From the top, we could see our destination ahead.2016_viejas-mountain-dsc_1902

The trail followed the ridgeline for another quarter mile or so.2016_viejas-mountain-dsc_1914

Finally, we came to the peak.2016_viejas-mountain-dsc_0343

An elaborate rock windbreak had been constructed at the summit.2016_viejas-mountain-dsc_1950

We found 2 survey benchmarks – one just inside the rock shelter’s entrance, and one just outside the southern tip of the shelter. We were pretty sure there should be a third somewhere, but couldn’t locate it.2016_viejas-mountain-dsc_1948

From the peak, we had a 360 degree view of eastern San Diego. We spent a good deal of time identifying peaks and other landmarks. 2016_viejas-mountain-dsc_1941

One of the closest peaks was El Cajon Mountain to the west.2016_viejas-mountain-dsc_1940

To the northeast was the distinctive form of Cuyamaca Peak, and Corte Madera and Los Pinos Mountain rose up beyond Interstate 8 in the southeast.2016_viejas-mountain-dsc_1934-pano-edit

Looking south, we could see Lyon’s Peak, Otay Mountain, and San Miguel Mountain.2016_viejas-mountain-dsc_1951

After enjoying the views, we headed back the way we had come.

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From I-8, take the Tavern Road exit and head north on Tavern Road. Stay right to turn onto Victoria Park Terrace. Follow Victoria Park Terrace for approximately .9 miles, then turn left onto W Victoria Drive. Continue for 1.4 miles, then turn left onto Anderson Road. Follow Anderson Road as it transitions to a dirt road and becomes the Boundary Truck Trail (note: the road’s a little bumpy but fine for low clearance cars). Approximately .8 miles after turning onto Anderson, you will find a small turn out on the left where you can park. The trail head is on the opposite side of the road. map

Total Distance: 3 miles
Difficulty: Moderately Strenuous
Total Ascent: 1474 feet
Dog Friendly?: Leashed dogs allowed
Bike Friendly?: Bikes allowed but not recommended
Facilities: None
Fees/Permits: None

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

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