El Capitan County Preserve

13775 Blue Sky Ranch Road, Lakeside, CA 92040
(619) 561-0580

Hours: 8 a.m. – sunset, daily

Pedestrian access is available from sunrise to sunset, daily. No public vehicle access or restroom availability on December 25. El Capitan is CLOSED in August due to extreme summer heat.

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El Capitan Preserve boasts a view of three reservoirs from one location in the park. Some 11 miles of trails provide a rugged route along a granite-ribbed ridgeline with stunning views of both ocean and mountains. 

The preserve’s 2,619 acres of open space provide room to roam through woodland, coastal sage scrub and mixed chaparral. The preserve is full of chaparral with plants like white sage, black sage and California sagebrush, along with laurel sumac, flat-top buckwheat, chamise and the rare endemic San Diego golden star. 

Along the trail, at about 4.7 miles, there’s a riparian area that features several species you don’t normally see so close to town. At about 3.5 miles (just past the lookout), explore a spur trail that leads to three old, unused mine shafts. 

This hike is considered strenuous and can easily take up to 6 hours to complete. There is very little shade along the way. Make sure you observe signs, wear the proper attire and sun protection, and bring plenty of water. 


  • 8.2 miles of non-motorized multi-use trails
  • Viewpoints
  • Staging area
  • Restroom

Visit the News & Events page for park events, updates and closures.

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