Mission Trails Regional Park consists of five main peaks. The park created the Five Peak Challenge as a way of encouraging hikers to get out and explore the many miles of trails that are available to explore.

The Mission Trails Regional Park Five Peak Challenge

Mission Trails Regional Park (MTRP) is one of the largest urban parks in the United States. The park contains over 7,000 acres of open space land, one weekend camp ground, and over sixty miles of hiking trails. The park is well known by many San Diegans and Southern California residents but what’s lesser known is the park’s Five Peak Challenge.

Each year MTRP encourages people to get out and explore each of the park’s five individual peaks: Cowles Mountain, Pyles Peak, Kwaay Paay Peak, North Fortuna, and South Fortuna. After taking a selfie at each summit, hikers can then submit their pictures to the MTRP Visitor Center. After the staff confirms completion, hikers can then pick up a certificate and pin from the visitor center. The challenge is open to anyone wanting to take it and there are no registration fees involved.

Five Peak Challenge In Several Days

Many hikers opt to complete the challenge throughout the year or broken up between a couple of days. Completing the challenge is by far the easiest way to do it. The park’s vast expanse makes some of the peaks difficult to get to without a car. Because of this, the peaks can be broken up into three separate groups.

Cowles Mountain and Pyles Peak have to be lumped together. The only way to get to Pyles is by going through Cowles Mountain first. The next peak would be Kwaay Paay peak which is one short trail that sits alone from the others. The last two are North and South Fortuna Peak which can both easily be done in the same hike.

Breaking Down The Peaks

Cowles Mountain and Pyles Peak

  • Total elevation: 1,592 feet.
  • Elevation gain: Approx 1500.
  • Estimated distance: 5.88 miles.
  • The only way to reach Pyles Peak is by getting to Cowles Mountain first.

Kwaay Paay Peak

  • Total elevation: 1,994 feet.
  • Elevation gain: 889 feet.
  • Estimated Distance: 2.3 miles.
North Fortuna Peak in Mission Trails Regional Park from the Five Peak Challenge

North and South Fortuna

  • Total elevation: 1,291 feet.
  • Elevation gain: 1,045 feet.
  • Estimated Distance: 6.2 miles.
  • Both peaks can be hiked individually. It’s only about 1.43 in additional mileage to check them both off.

Hiking The Five Peak Challenge In One Day

A small percentage of challenge participants choose to hike all five peaks in one day. This is not a simple task and requires a good base level of fitness and endurance. There is a single trail route to complete this challenge but it is too much to cover in this article. For a complete trail route, see the guide to completing the MTRP Five Peak Challenge in one day.

Five Peak Challenge Certificate

MTRP used to issue a Five Peak Challenge certificate as well as a pine upon completing all of the hikes. As of June of 2020 they no longer issue the certificate. They stopped once a goal of fifteen thousand participants was reached. Hopefully they bring back the certificate. However, this is still a great challenge to complete, certificate or not.