Mission Trails Regional Park: North Fortuna Loop

Mission Trails Regional Park: North Fortuna Loop

While in San Diego, California, we took advantage of the 70 degree February weather, and hiked over the North and South Fortuna Mountains. The Mission Trail Regional Park was an easy 20 minute drive from our hotel in the Gaslamp District. The rocky terrain and plethora of wildflowers made it difficult to believe that we were within the city limits!

A mass of yellow-gold wildflowers

Mission Trails Park has more than 7,000 acres of land and 60 miles of trails, making it the 5th largest urban park in the United States. On some sections of the trail loop, we could hear traffic on the bordering highway. For, the most part, the hike was quiet and peaceful.

There is curb side parking on Clairemont Mesa Boulevard, so we chose an empty spot, and walked the short distance to the trailhead. There are no restrooms in this region of the park, but there are several in other areas, including the Visitor’s Center off Mission Gorge Road, and Kumeysay Lake Campground in the northeast region of the park.

Woman and man holding hands above their heads, walking across a trail bridge
My daughter and son-in-law, celebrating that Grandpa is the one hiking with the baby.

After strapping on some backpacks, and a front pack for my grand baby, we were ready to get moving! From the West Fortuna Staging Area of Clairemont Mesa, we walked over a bridge and headed north on the Mountain Saddle Trail, a packed stone pathway.

Gray, wide stone incline with 3 adults walking in the distance
Northbound on the Mountain Saddle Trail

At mile 1, we took a slight left turn onto the dirt Rim Trail, walking .8 miles with minor elevation changes.

A reddish brown dirt pathway winding its way toward a green mountain top, bright blue skies overhead.
The Rim Trail

We veered slightly right onto the Shepherd Ridge Trail, and walked up a gentle incline, 200′ over .7 mile. The path had a lot of loose chunks of dirt and stones, probably remnants of an unusual amount of rain over the previous weeks. The wildflowers were a pleasant byproduct of the rainy days.

An unclose photo of clusters of light purple flowers, the brown trail in the background
Wildflowers bordered sections of the Shepherd Ridge Trail

At the 2.5 mile mark, we turned right and joined the North Fortuna Trail, the steepest incline of the loop.

North Fortuna Trail

The trail was rocky and very dry. After only a .3 mile climb, we came to an overlook with views to the southwest and northeast.

Dirt trail, increasing in elevation, and dotted with brown, loose rocks
Southbound on the North Fortuna Trail, en route to the highest peak of the mountain
View of green rolling hills, city life and a freeway in the distance
A southwesterly view from the first southbound overlook on North Fortuna Trail. The San Clemente Freeway is visible on the right side of the photo.

We continued on to the highest point of the trail and North Fortuna Mountain, 1,290′ at mile 3.1. We enjoyed a 360 degree view of the surrounding San Diego region.

From the peak of North Fortuna Mountain, a view to the east
The dry dirt made our decent from North Fortuna Mountain quite slippery

We continued our trek another .4 miles, stopping in a shady area on the Fortuna Saddle Trail, for a grandbaby diaper change and feeding break.

A view of North Fortuna Mountain from the Fortuna Saddle Trail, the site of our hike break

We resumed our hike to the highpoint of South Fortuna Mountain, 1,085′ at mile 4.3. From our resting spot, the .8 mile incline was very gentle, climbing just under 200′ of elevation.

Green mountain and bright blue sky in the background, bright golden yellow flowers in the foreground
A backwards view of South Fortuna Mountain

At the 4.7 mile mark, the trail descended quickly. It was very slippery, despite the steps and boulders within the trail. We slowed our pace significantly to ensure no falls, especially with the baby on board.

Looking down a steep dirt path that traverses green rolling hills
We used great caution on the slippery descent from South Fortuna Mountain

At the bottom of the mountain, mile 5.5, we made two quick left turns and continued on South Trail, which was rocky, but had little elevation.

At mile 5.9, we joined the stone San Diego Aquaduct Service Road for .3 mile, making a quick right and then left, connecting with the stone Mountain Saddle Trail, closing our trail loop.

Crushed stone road weaving up a hillside
The San Diego Aqueduct Service Road
A mountain ridge line
A view of the North and South Fortuna Mountain Ridge Line from mile 5.9

After 3:09 hours, we once again crossed the bridge, finishing our 6.7 mile loop, hot, sweaty, and greatly satisfied with our San Diego adventure.

Hike difficulty classification (link) 
DifficultyModerate to difficult
Geographic locationSan Diego, California
Trailhead parking optionsWest Fortuna Staging Area, Claremont Mesa Boulevard
Trail amenitiesPark map at the trailhead; no bathroom facilities in this region of the park
Elevation - trailhead588'
Elevation - highest peak1,290'
Elevation gain1,391'
Total mileage6.7 miles
Water sourcesNone
HighlightsView of San Diego and surrounding valley
Wildflowers bordering the path to North Fortuna Trail

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