5.5 miles | +1900'
Reaching a height of 4,187 feet, Viejas Mountain rises above the surrounding hills in San Diego County and looms in the north over the small town of Alpine, CA. Located near the southern end of the Cleveland National Forest, just north of Interstate 8, this triangular shaped mass clearly stands out to those traveling both east and west on the interstate. I've wanting to hike this mini-monster of a mountain again ever since I discovered another approach to the summit from the south. There's a small turnout just off Interstate 8 and Willows Road that provides easy access to the trail that climbs straight up the south ridge of the mountain. It's longer than the west approach but the views are better.
Years ago there existed on the summit of Viejas Mountain an arrangement of stones interpreted by anthropologists to be a winter-solstice marker, used for ceremonial purposes by the Kumeyaay Indians. Unfortunately, the marker was thoughtlessly destroyed by campers in the mid-1970s. In its place several windbreaks were constructed, including one large one with a small lean-to and fireplace for those seeking shelter during overnight stays.