Having hiked to the summits of all five peaks within Mission Trails Regional Parks, the hike to South and North Fortuna from the Fortuna Staging Area is easily my favorite. This hike offers solitude, a trail that parallels running water (seasonal), and the chance to bag two peaks in quick succession. The views of the greater San Diego area from these two peaks is pretty amazing.
Directions And GPS Tracks:
- To hike South Fortuna and North Fortuna Mountains, you’ll head to the East Fortuna Equestrian Staging Area. Drive to Equestrian Cir, Santee, CA 92071. There is parking in a dirt lot right near the trailhead of the Spring Canyon Trail.
- Download GPX
- See my track on Strava
- To begin this hike, you can start out on the Spring Canyon Trail or the North Perimeter Trail. You’ll see both heading west in the aerial image below. For this hike writeup, I started with the Spring Canyon Trail and returned via the North Perimeter Trail.
- Distance: 7.1 miles
- Elevation Gain: 1354 ft
- Minimum Elevation: 305 ft
- Maximum Elevation: 1291 ft
- Time: 3-4 hours
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Dog Friendly: Yes, on leash
- Permit Required: No
- Parking: Parking lot at trailhead
- Season: Year Round
- Trail Condition: The is very steep in places, but well maintained, well marked, and easy to follow. There is a section of this hike that can be along water depending on the season.
- Cell Phone Reception: Very good
Hike Map And Elevation Profile:
0.0 Miles- Start out on the Spring Canyon Trail located at the north end of the East Fortuna Staging Area.
There are two spots in the early stages of this trail that can be covered with water in the rainy season. There are rocks to help hikers get from one side to the other.
0.4 Miles- As the Spring Canyon Trail heads southeast, it intersects with the Grasslands Loop(Crossing) Trail and the North Perimeter Loop Trail. Both of these trails will take you east and eventually where you need to go. For this hike, I stayed on the Grasslands Loop Trail.
0.8 Miles- The Grasslands Loop Trail will run along a wooden fence. Follow the trail along the fence, due south.
1.0 Miles- Leave the Grasslands Loop behind for the Oak Canyon Trail. This is an easy junction to miss, so keep your eyes open!
Oak Canyon Trail runs along a shaded creek for 0.2 miles before venturing out into a little more exposure.
1.3 Miles- The creek takes a turn as the trail heads east, and swells with more water than before. You’ll get to cross over a few bridges here. Make sure to take a little extra caution with your footwork on this stretch of the hike as the rocky trail can be loose in areas.
1.6 Miles- The Oak Canyon Trail intersects the Fortuna Saddle Trail. Head east on the Fortuna Saddle Trail.
Once you’re on the Fortuna Saddle Trail, things start get steep. You’ll gain 500ft of elevation in the next 0.6 miles. I saw one lady fall heading downhill on this section, so make sure to keep your feet firmly planted beneath you.
2.2 Miles- Once you reach the Fortuna Saddle, you can decide if you want to bag South Fortuna or North Fortuna first. I like to finish with the highest peak last, so I took a left at the saddle to summit South Fortuna first.
2.8 Miles- The 1094ft summit of South Fortuna was empty on this day, as it is not a popular destination in the Mission Trails Regional Park. All the more reason to enjoy this one and all the solitude it provides.
Once you’ve spent enough time at the summit, make your way back down to the saddle to summit North Fortuna.
3.4 Miles- Once you’ve made it back to the saddle, head up the trail to North Fortuna. I came upon a rattle snake on this outing. Make sure to keep your eyes open for rattlers all throughout Mission Trail Regional Park.
4.0 Miles- There is a false summit just before reaching the actual summit of North Fortuna. You’ll know you’ve reached the top at 1291ft when you see the summit register and summit post sign.
Once you’ve enjoyed the views and taken some time to rest your legs, you can return the way your arrived via the Fortuna Saddle Trail.