Bi-Annual Warrior Hike Challenge

County Parks’ Warrior Hike Challenge launched in 2015 as a way to celebrate the athleticism and mental stamina that’s required to climb what’s arguably the toughest hike in San Diego County – El Cajon Mountain in the El Capitan County Preserve.

El Capitan is popular among active and retired military personnel, so we designed an event to honor them and to make the mountain more approachable to their family and friends. Warrior Hike Challenges take place twice a year on Memorial Day and Veterans Day weekends. 

By breaking the hike into three levels, participants can choose their own adventure; navigating the length of trail that matches their individual interest and ability. Celebration stations sit at the 1-mile and 3-mile turnaround points. Extreme hikers will push their limits to climb to the summit for a 12-mile trek through the scenic, undulating preserve.

Events are free and there is no need to RSVP. The event is open to all ages and dogs on leash, however, we encourage all guests to consider the demands of the challenge and the heat of the unshaded trail when selecting their hiking buddies. 

Attendees should bring ample water (1+ gallons for Warriors), and wear sturdy hiking boots. Sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, and a walking stick or poles are also recommended.

Healthy refreshments are available at celebration stations, including the staging area at the base of the preserve, located of Wildcat Canyon Road at 13775 Blue Sky Ranch Road in Lakeside. Park staff are always on site and along the trail to answer questions and lead groups. 

For more information, contact Jessica Geiszler at

Warrior Hike - Memorial Day 2024


Volunteer Warriors Wanted


Volunteer for the 2024 Warrior Hike Challenges!

About El Capitan County Preserve:

El Capitan Preserve has views of three reservoirs from one location in the park. On site are roughly 8 miles of trails across 2,619 acres of open space. The park is open every day from sunrise to sunset (except during the month of August, when it is closed due to extreme heat). The parking area and trailhead are located at the intersection of Wildcat Canyon Road and Blue Sky Ranch Road. Take Highway 67 north. Turn right at Willow Road. Turn left at Wildcat Canyon Road. Turn right at Blue Sky Ranch Road. Read the  feature article by the County News Center. Or,  view one hiker's trekked route on 

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