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Hot Springs Mountain is the highest point in San Diego County. While the peak is not on public land, the Los Coyotes Tribe allows visitors to hike from our campgrounds to the top. Permits may be purchased at our ranger station or prepaid online.


Click here for directions to the Los Coyotes Reservation Campground.


  • This trek is on a dirt road, leaving plenty of space for groups and no bushwhacking needed

  • The hike is near 10 miles, round trip, with a 2500 foot elevation gain

  • The first 2 miles are the most strenuous, with little shade and a steep climb

  • Once you reach higher elevation the coniferous forest will supply ample shaded areas

First 2.6 miles

  • At 2.6 miles in, Sukat Road merges into Hot Springs Mountain Road

  • Stay to the right and follow the sign that points to the Lookout Tower​

Final 2.2 miles

  • Once you reach the end of the road you will see an old fire lookout tower

  • The tower is not the summit and climbing is prohibited

Click here for historical information about the lookout tower

  • The summit is located East of the lookout tower. A single-track trail will lead you to this spot

  • Follow the flags marking the trail

Fire Tower

HSM Summit

  • There are 3 USGS markers embedded in the granite rock, with the final summit marker being embedded in a concrete slab at the top

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Purchase Hiking Permit