North and South Fortuna are two small peaks but fun challenging hikes in San Diego. Right before flying to the East coast fro the holidays my Fiance and I did a 7.2-mile loop that took us up to the top of South Fortuna then across the saddle to the peak of North Fortuna before going back down and back to our car. Directions to parking and the hike start can be found on Google maps here.
Maps and Elevation Profiles
The maps below can be viewed and downloaded on Caltopo here.
When we first arrived there were a ton of cars at the entrance but there is plenty of parking along Clairmont Mesa Road. If there are a lot of cars though, be ready to walk quite a bit to get the actual entrance of the park, but at least there is plenty of parking.
The start of the hike begins across an older bridge that leads you into the hills.
ℹ️ Gear Recommendations
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The parking is toward the top right in the picture above. This picture was taken at the end of the hike as we were coming back towards the bridge to get back to our car.
At first, the trail is very wide and flat and there were a lot of people, but we quickly took one of the side trails off the main trail and it got pretty quiet real quick. The side trails were a little less groomed but were still very well maintained.
The hike starts almost on a small plateau and you weave your way down into a little valley then up the steep stairs of South Fortuna. As we weaved down to the valley we could see the steep way up South Fortuna way in the distance. If you look very closely just to the left of the middle in the picture below you may be able to spot the steep route of South Fortuna.
You also get a great view of North Fortuna summit too, and another route that goes up to the summits that split both North and South Fortuna:
At the bottom of the valley between the parking and North and South Fortuna summits, it's rocky beautiful and green with a whole lot of side trails to explore.
As you get close to South Fortuna the terrain quickly starts to change as you climb up and out of the valley, nearing your first real fun climb of the day. In the picture below you can see the approach up to the stairs which will quickly bring you up towards the summit of South Fortuna.
The higher you climb on the stairs the narrower the trail gets, so make sure you watch your step!
While climbing you may be keeping your eyes on the summit, hoping you get to it quickly because by this time your quads are probably burning but make sure you take a break or two and take a peek back behind you at the stairs you climbed, its an awesome view back over your shoulder
Once you finally get to the top of the stairs, quickly congratulate yourself then keep hiking because you are not at the summit of South Fortuna yet! Don't worry it's not much further and you will know you are there because there is a pretty prominent marker of the summit:
After the South Fortuna Summit and surviving those steep stairs the saddle is a pretty easy section of trail, with a short milder climb up the summit of North Fortuna. While hiking along the saddle enjoy the views!
When I thought I was at the summit of North Fortuna, I wasn't but it was just around the corner and again just like South Fortuna it was well marked.
The view from the top of North Fortuna was fantastic, and we sat up at the top to drink some water and have a little rest along with a snack. From the summit, you can see beautiful San Diego in the distance and the majestic pacific ocean as its backdrop!
From this point all the hard climbing is over and its time to head down and get back to your car. The way down is steep at first but not as steep as the stairs coming up South Fortuna you took earlier in the day.
By this time in our hike, it was later in the day and the trails were pretty empty. Most of the people we saw on the hike were while we were climbing up the stairs and then also on the summit of North Fortuna, those were the two busiest spots. If you are looking for a great fun challenging local hike in San Diego this is an awesome loop with almost no repeated trails until the very end!