Pay a visit to Kwaay Paay optimal for an efficient workout it is rewarded with panoramic views. The 2.5-mile round pilgrimage hike come the 1,194-foot summit climbs 885 feet, v steep stretches the will have actually your love pumping. The summit is simply ten miles from downtown san Diego, within the 6,800 acres of Mission Trails local Park, for this reason you’ll view beautiful herbal landscapes and also cityscapes top top this funny San Diego hike.

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A couple places can be offered to begin your hike to Kwaay Paay Peak. Both are situated along dad Juniper Serra Trail, a paved road v Mission Trails regional Park. For a shorter, 2.2-mile round trip trek that skips the finish of the ridge north of Kwaay Paay Peak, hikers can begin from Old Mission Dam historical Site (more on this option later).

For the complete Kwaay Paay top Trail, collection out from dad Juniper Serra Trail close to Kumeyaay Lake Campground. The trail goes south and also immediately concerns a separation that gift one much more route come Kwaay Paay Peak. The key trail transforms right and launches up the ridge the extends phibìc from Kwaay Paay Peak. The trail the cross a crest and drops across a saddle, wherein it meets the other trail the heads to the left native the junction through the trailhead. This alternating route to the west of the main trail have the right to be supplied to surpasses the north end of the ridge. Add selection to your hike by making use of this trail for one expedition up or down the mountain.

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The begin of Kwaay Paay peak Trail

Kwaay Paay optimal Trail pipeline the first junction and also swings around to the north side of the ridge to begin a steep rise up a rutted slope. Capture your breath and also look over her shoulder to obtain nice early views come the north across Father Juniper Serra Trail towards the riparian woodland along the san Diego River and also around Kumeyaay Lake. You can look aside from that north towards San Clemente Canyon Freeway (Route 52) and east over Santee.

Come over the top of the ridge, after obtaining close come 200 feet in the an initial 0.2 miles, and take the trail follow me a wooden fence (don’t stray turn off track and trample the plants). The trail aims toward, Cowles Mountain and Pyles Peak, which form the various other side of Mission Gorge come the southeast. To the right, peer across the ridge toward southern Fortuna Mountain. As you revolve downhill, the trail curve to the right and also points toward Kwaay Paay Peak. Drop about 25 feet the hard-fought elevation as you overcome the saddle before resuming the ascent.

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Kwaay Paay height Trail crosses a saddle

At 0.42 miles from the start, the alternating route along the west next of the ridge joins Kwaay Paay optimal Trail native the left. Continue a short distance farther and come come a second junction, i beg your pardon is top top the right, 0.45 miles from the start. This is Mission Dam-Kwaay Paay peak Trail, which takes a 0.3-mile long route from Old Mission Dam historic Site as much as this junction. A sign at the junction, which you will see on the hike ago down has actually an arrowhead for the main trail labeled “Campground – Lake” and also an arrow for Mission Dam-Kwaay Paay optimal Trail labeling “Old Mission Dam.”

From the junction with the trail from Old Mission Dam historic Site, it is 0.8 miles to the summit v close come 650 feet of elevation change. There room no an ext junctions, so set your target on the mountaintop, i m sorry you’ll view as you begin the next section that the hike. This center stretch of the trail is fairly moderate. North and also South Fortuna mountain rise to your right and there are vast views to the north looking earlier down the trail and also over bordering grassy ridges.

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Looking ago down Kwaay Paay height Trail

At 0.95 mile from the start, Kwaay Paay height Trail crosses a landing and also a brief saddle below the trail’s steepest ascent. In the calm before the climb, enjoy a look at dramatic rocky cliffs that show up to your right below South Fortuna.

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Fortuna mountain from a landing ~ above Kwaay Paay optimal Trail
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Rocky cliffs ~ above the south end of Fortuna Mountain

The following 0.15 mile are really steep, gaining some 250 feet, yet pull through and also things will taper out as you strategy the ring mountaintop. A couple flights of wooden steps provide extra traction up the steep dust trail.

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Looking up the steepest park of the hike native a landing on Kwaay Paay height Trail
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Looking down the steepest part of Kwaay Paay height Trail
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Looking north end the mountain Diego River

Above the climb, look left because that a fleeting look in ~ the mountains to the southeast, which come prior to the finish of the trail, around 1.2 mile from the start. Pyles height takes up much more of the view, however behind that, you’ll spot the 1,591-foot crown that Cowles Mountain, i beg your pardon is the highest allude in the city of mountain Diego.

As the trace flattens, you will certainly arrive at the approach on the summit of Kwaay Paay Peak. Have actually a chair on among the boulders in the dirt clearing. The skipping is surrounded by dense brush and enclosed by wooden fences to protect the vegetation. The summit provides sweeping views looking southwest over san Diego and northwest towards Fortuna Mountain. The peak of the trail is top top the west next of the summit, blocking see of Cowles mountain or the south side of san Diego indigenous the end of the trail.

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Looking southwest from the optimal of Kwaay Paay Peak

According to the San Diego Reader, the surname Kwaay Paay comes from a Kumeyaay Indian native that way leader. You may feel prepared to lead after the short, challenging hike come this 1,194-foot summit. The mountaintop is 1.25 mile from the begin of Kwaay Paay peak Trail or 1.1 miles from Mission Dam historical Site.

Hike back down the trail, as soon as you have actually finished enjoy it the view. If you take it the main trail up however decide come hike down Mission Dam-Kwaay Paay optimal Trail, the 2 trails have the right to be linked with a quarter mile lengthy walk along Father Junipero Serra Trail. Other trails indigenous Old Mission Dam historical Site permit for additional hikes, including a 0.2-mile round pilgrimage stroll to the damages of the Mission Dam.

Mission Dam-Kwaay Paay peak Trail: because that the 1.1-mile long route come Kwaay Paay Peak, begin from the parking area by Old Mission Dam historical Site. Because you’re here, warmth up v the short, level hike come Mission Dam. Take it the trail from the end of the parking lot, instantly passing with a picnic area. After ~ a tenth that a mile, a broad seasonal swimming pool in the mountain Diego River appears to the left, developed by sections of a rock retaining wall surface that still remain from a 200-year-old dam. A panel along the trail describes that:

After many attempts dating back to 1774 to carry out a reliable resource of water because that crops and livestock for Mission mountain Diego de Alcala, a dam and flume system was finished in between 1813 and 1816 by Indian laborers and also Franciscan Missionaries to draw away waters that the mountain Diego flow for a street of 6 miles. The aqueduct system ongoing in presence until 1831 when constant flooding caused the dam and flume to fall into disrepair. They were no repaired due to the secularization of the missions.

The flow looks fairly pleasant above the dam, however stay out of the water. Swimming and also wading is no allowed.

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Mission Dam top top the mountain Diego River

Return to the parking area in ~ Old Mission Dam historic Site and walk the end the other end of the parking area and across Father Junipero Serra Trail. Uncover the start of a dirt solitary track on the various other side, heading increase a grassy slope towards Kwaay Paay Peak, which is visible best from the start.

Hike increase Mission Dam-Kwaay Paay peak Trail for 0.15 miles to an outcropping that rocks top top the ideal side the the trail. This is a an excellent spot come pause and also look down over the woodland follow me the mountain Diego River. The long ridge the Fortuna Mountain boundaries opposite next of the gorge. Mission Dam-Kwaay Paay optimal Trail proceeds up the next of a attract in the landscape listed below the mountain, offering fantastic views the Kwaay Paay Peak. Nearing the top of the trail, gaze towards the north finish of the ridge the is crossed by the key fork of Kwaay Paay height Trail.

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Kwaay Paay height from Mission Dam-Kwaay Paay peak Trail

When Mission Dam-Kwaay Paay optimal Trail ends after 0.3 miles, be affected by each other right and hike an additional 0.8 miles to the summit. Return via the same course for a 2.2-mile round trip hike with 895 feet of elevation adjust (not counting the short stroll come Mission Dam).


The hike is a little easier beginning from Mission Dam, but all courses to Kwaay Paay height are challenging and worthwhile. No permit is forced to hike come Kwaay Paay Peak and also there is no fee come visit Mission Trails local Park. Leashed dog are allowed on Kwaay Paay optimal Trail, but bikes space not.

To obtain to the main trailhead: take Interstate 15 to exit 11 for mountain Clemente Canyon Freeway (Route 52). Take course 52 eastern for 6 miles. Leave on Mast Boulevard. Rotate left in ~ the bottom the the ramp. Pass under the highway and also turn best on West Hills Parkway. Journey 0.7 miles and turn right on Mission canyon Road. Do the an initial right onto dad Junipero Serra Trail ~ a 4 minutes 1 mile. Journey 0.4 miles to the start of the trace on the left (south) next of the road. Street parking is easily accessible the roadway by the trailhead. Additional parking have the right to be uncovered in a dust lot in ~ the intersection of father Junipero Serra Trail and also Bushy Hill Drive, simply 0.2 miles eastern of the trailhead.

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Trailhead address: dad Junipero Serra Trail, Santee, CA 92071Trailhead coordinates: 32.84022, -117.03701 (32° 50′ 24.79″N 117° 02′ 13.23″W)

To get to Old Mission Dam historical Site: take it Mission Gorge roadway to dad Junipero Serra Trail and drive 0.65 miles to the parking area for Mission Dam, which is ~ above the right across from the trail to Kwaay Paay Peak. A gate crosses half of father Junipero Serra Trail at Old Mission Dam historic Site. Dad Junipero Serra follow is closed come westbound auto traffic from this suggest on (that roadway of the roadway is for cyclists and also pedestrians only).

Trailhead address: dad Junipero Serra Trail, Santee, CA 92071Trailhead coordinates: 32.83958, -117.04126 (32° 50′ 22.48″N 117° 02′ 28.53″W)