Iron Mountain, Poway CA

• 4-star hike
• 5.6 to 8.6 mile options
• Medium difficulty | Gain 1,110 to 1,950 feet
• Poway, CA | San Diego Region
• Driving Directions: Trailhead

Iron mountain framed by trailhead sign.
Iron Mountain framed by trailhead sign.

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Located less than 30 miles from San Diego near the town of Poway, Iron Mountain stands tall within a wild landscape of native chaparral and weather-worn sandstone boulders.

The out-and-back hike from the Highway 67 trailhead to the summit begins with a long, straight path with a gentle incline that gradually becomes more challenging as it ascends. Hang a right at the junction in the cleft of two peaks and the trail becomes steeper but thankfully only moderately so, with few rocky sections.

Panoramic scenes are excellent in all directions from the summit, including those of the surrounding mountains and on the clearest of days, even the Pacific Ocean beyond the San Diego skyline.

red icon Iron Mt, purple icon Ellie Lane Expand Map

red icon Iron Mountain Trail 4★
5.6 mi, Out-and-Back, Medium, Gain 1,110 ft
Trailspotting Map at AllTrails

purple icon Iron Mt & Ellie Lane Loop 4★
8.6 mi, Loop, Medium, Gain 1,950 ft
Trailspotting Map at AllTrails

The alternative and circuitous Iron Mountain & Ellie Lane Loop route we enjoyed on our early morning adventure started with a left turn onto Wild Horse Trail that led to the Ellie Lane Trail. We didn't see another soul on these two trails, except for the frequent scattering of rabbits and a fleeting glimpse of a distant juvenile mountain lion crossing our path.

This quiet single-file trail provided occasional shade from sagebush, manzanita and ceanothus bushes and trees which diminished once we began climbing upward through a striking hillside covered in rounded sandstone boulders.

Several viewpoints along the way provided opportunities for rest and appreciation of some great westerly landscapes. This route almost double the elevation gain of the usual out-and-back route, but from the peak of the Ellie Lane Trail you're rewarded with more awesome views, this time in an easterly direction.

Tree lined avenue. Hikers walking ahead.
The last and only shade on the main trail is by the entrance.

Shade is extremely limited on this trail so please take precautions with sun protection including hats, sunscreen, UV chapstick and more water than you think you're going to need.

The trailhead is located behind the park and ride commuter lot, and includes restroom facilities. The lot fills up quickly on weekends, so arrive early to snag a spot and reduce your sun exposure on the trail. We've also identified on our map an alternative trailhead at Ellie Lane located a further three quarters of a mile up Highway 67 to the North. Starting an out-and-back summit hike from here would extend your round trip by a couple of miles.

A long straight trail heading towards a cleft between mountains. Several hikers walk away from the camera.
The out-and-back trail to Iron Mountain.

Hiker on a trail, surrounded by wind-worn sandstone boulders that litter the hillside.
Wind-worn sandstone boulders on the Ellie Lane Loop.

Rotating steel pipe with a long viewing tube at the top and a pointer at the bottom that shows what peak you're looking at.
Peak Finder atop Iron Mountain.

• Trail Links: Official Site
• Public Map at AllTrails: Iron Mountain Trail

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