Hike Iron Mountain (San Diego)
- 5.6 miles - Moderate Effort
- 3 Hours (Total)
- 1,220 Total Feet of Climbing
- Max Elevation of 2,696 feet
- Leashed Dogs Allowed
Iron Mountain, in San Diego County, is one of the most popular hikes in the area. Hiking to the summit is tough, but not extreme, and once there, you can soak in panoramic views from the high mountains to the Pacific Ocean. The summit even has a viewfinder and picnic benches where you can relax. In this guide, I'll show you how to safely do the hike, avoid the crowds, and beat the heat.
- Video and Turn by Turn Directions for Iron Mountain
- How to Get to Iron Mountain Near San Diego
- Insider Tips and Recommendations for the Hike
When planning, always check the park website and social media to make sure the trails are open. Similarly, check the weather and road conditions.
Don't confuse this Iron Mountain hike with the hike of the same name in Angeles National Forest. This Iron Mountain in San Diego is much easier and is doable by most folks. There are 50 peaks named "Iron Mountain" in the USA, so it's easy to get confused.
How to Get to Iron Mountain in Poway
Since there are few "Iron Mountains" around, make sure you pay attention to the address you use, otherwise you could easily get routed to the Iron Mountain near LA. And there a few trailheads and routes to hike Iron Mountain. This guide covers the most popular route that also has the largest parking area.
Use this trailhead address:
Iron Mountain Trailhead, 14847-14909 CA-67, Poway, CA 92064
This lot is also used by trail runners, bikers, and people hitting the other trails in the area. It can get very busy; on the weekend there can be 100s of cars parked here and along highway 67. Your best bet is to do this hike at sunrise on a weekday or later in the afternoon. 10am on a Saturday is setting yourself up for a bad time.
If the lot is full, and you decide to park along Highway 67, use extreme caution, as the traffic moves fast and drivers don't expect pedestrians.
Parking in the lot is free.
Gear For the Hike
- The main thing on this hike is the heat. If it's summer and hot out, it's really tough. If it's sunrise in the winter, it's cool and comfortable. If you do go in the heat, make sure you have at least 2L of water and sun protection. Otherwise you can get away with 1L of water.
- There are steep sections on the hike. Wear good footwear and bring trekking poles if you have them.
- You can get away with fitness clothes or light hiking gear here.
- This is a popular hike, and if you get into trouble on the trail, you're bound to see other hikers.
Top Spring 2023 Gear Picks
Osprey Stratos and Sirrus 24 Daypack ( Amazon | Sirrus REI | Stratos REI )
Garmin Mini 2 Satellite Communicator ( Amazon | REI )
Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Poles ( REI | Amazon )
As a hiking guide, I test lots of hiking gear. On my picks page, I'll show you all of the gear that I actually use. I don't accept paid promotions or talk about the stuff that doesn't make the cut. It's just the gear that works best, so you don't have to waste your money.
All My March 2023 Top Gear Picks
Iron Mountain Trail Maps
Overall the trail to the summit of Iron Mountain is very well marked and very busy. There are a few intersections (that I show you in the directions below) but otherwise the hike is straightforward.
Explore Map on CalTopoView a Printable PDF Hike MapDownload the Hike GPX File
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Iron Mountain Hike Directions
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Turn by Turn Directions
The land around you was all destroyed in the 2003 Cedar Fire, one of the largest in California history. Everything you see now has grown back since then.
From here, you just turn around and go back down the way you came up. That's the hike!
This Guide Was Written by Cris Hazzard
Hi, I'm Cris Hazzard, aka Hiking Guy, a professional outdoors guide, hiking expert, and author based in Southern California. I created this website to share all the great hikes I do with everyone else out there. This site is different because it gives detailed directions that even the beginning hiker can follow. I also share what hiking gear works and doesn't so you don't waste money. I don't do sponsored or promoted content; I share only the gear recommendations, hikes, and tips that I would with my family and friends. If you like the website and YouTube channel, please support these free guides (I couldn't do it without folks like you!).
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