Corte Madera Peak is a beautiful out and back hiking trail located near the town of Descanso in San Diego County, California. I completed this hike in February during a mild winter day. The features of this peak are beautiful views of downtown San Diego, the ocean, Cuyamaca Peak, and the Cleveland National Forest.


Corte Madera Peak Trail

Corte Madera is a fun out and back trail with beautiful views. One of the best features of this trail aside from the views are the stunning and huge granite rock formations near the peak. Some people have even referred to these granite rocks as “San Diego’s Yosemite.” While I don’t think anything compares to Yosemite, the trail to Corte Madera is a hike that should not be missed. Corte Madera translates to “cut wood” in Spanish. Aside from the large granite rock formations, Corte Madera is an excellent trail in San Diego to view the Manzanita shrub. The Manzanita shrub is known for its colorful red bark, twisting branches, and pink flowers. Their pink flowers are a natural food source to hummingbirds. The best time to see Manzanitas bloom is during the spring.

If you have done this hike recently, please share your pictures in the comments or leave an update about the trail.



  • Corte Madera Trail Overall Difficulty: 40 % 40 %
Corte Madera Peak Quick Facts:
  • Elevation: 4,715 feet
  • Elevation Gain: 1,509 Feet
  • Estimated Distance: 7 miles
  • My Actual Distance: 6.8 miles
  • Estimated Time: 4 hours
  • My Time: 3 hours

Open in maps. Exit at Buckman Spring Road and turn right. Turn right onto Corral Canyon, and follow the rough, single-lane road for 4.8 miles until it makes a sharp hairpin turn. Parking is basically wherever you can near the gate on a small private road. Park off the road in a small dirt lot big enough for a few cars.

Corte Madera Peak Trail Pictures:

Who Corte Madera Trail Is For:

Novice Hikers: If you’re new to hiking, Corte Madera could be a fun peak to challenge yourself to see if you’re ready to handle some more difficult hikes.

Advanced Hikers: For people who are in decent shape and/or regular hikers, this hike will be a fun way to spend a few hours of the day.

Expert Hikers: This hike will be fun with rewarding views.

It’s always a good idea to be aware of what type of hiking level you’re at.


Best Time Of Year To Hike Corte Madera Peak:

I’ll tell you the worst time:  hot summer days and hot Santa Ana wind conditions. Other than that, mild spring and fall days will be a great time. If it’s on the warmer spectrum, bring more water. The trail doesn’t have much cover and is exposed to the sun most of the time. Winter months can have occasional snow if the levels are low enough but it’s usually short lasting. Bring warmth for the colder days. The inland mountains and valleys can be wind prone as well so always check the weather conditions before you go.

Corte Madera Peak Trail Conditions:

Crowds can be a factor as weather improves. When I did Corte Madera Peak the water was in the 50’s and the group that I was with only saw about five people. There’s not much shade from the trees especially as you get higher up towards the peak. If sun is something you’re concerned about, prepare accordingly. The trail is out and back and the first half is on a private utility road that eventually branches off to the left and to the right. When it branches off to the right the trail transitions from a road into a trail. The trail gets enough use as to be well defined. In the lower and shadier part of the trail, keep an eye out for poison oak.