Monserate Mountain is a short and popular trail in northeren San Diego County just before the Riverside County Line. The peak offers panoramic views of the area of Fallbrook as well as other landmark mountains of Southern California.

Hiking Monserate Mountain

In the far reaches of North County in San Diego lies a modest hill called Monserate Mountain which sits at 1,567. To be fair, this is more of a prominent hill in the inland valleys than a Mountain. What’s not so moderate is the steep approximate one and a half mile to the top with 1,291 feet of elevation gain. The peak itself lies directly off the I-15 North corridor in the City of Fallbrook. From the top of Monserate Mountain, one can see sprawling urban views extending to the Coast, Palomar Mountain, San Jacinto Peak, San Gorgonio Peak, the northern Cleveland Forest, and even the far reaches of the San Gabriel Mountain Ranches on a clear day. 

Monserate Mountain is managed by the Fallbrook Land Conservancy (FLC). The FLC is a non-profit organization that aims to preserve the natural habitat through land conservation in the area. This particular preserve features 340 acres of protected land. At the peak of Monserate Mountain rests a United States flag. This flag is a popular opportunity that many people use to take photos. 

Each year the North County Fire Protection District holds an annual Fallbrook Firefighters 9/11 Memorial Hill Climb. This annual hill climb has been going on since 2013 near the weekend of September 11th. The hill climb is in honor of the 343 firefighters that died in the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers in 2001. Money raised during the event is split between the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and the Wounded Warrior Project. For more information, please check out their website.

On A Personal Note

Monserate Mountain can be a short and sweet hike for those needing to get some outdoor time and who live in the nearby area. The trail is a bit close to civilization for my tastes. There is still a pretty big burn scar from the 2007 Rice Fire from which the vegetation has not fully recovered. In my opinion, this trail is very reminiscent to the popular, Cowles Mountain.  

Have you recently done this hike? Please post your photos in or leave an update to the trail conditions in the comments section.

  • Overall Difficulty: 70% 70%
  • Overall Views: 55% 55%
Monserate Mountain Quick Facts:
  • Estimated Distance:  4.1 miles.
  • My Distance: 3.99 miles.
  • Total Elevation: 1,567
  • Elevation Gain: 1,381 feet.
  • Estimated Time: 2-4 hours.
  • My Time: 2 hours 14 minutes (2 hours moving). 
Monserate Mountain Trail Directions:
Open in maps. Monserate Mountain is very easily accessed off of I-15 North. The trailhead is near the intersection of Stewart Canyon Road and House Ranch Creek Road. There is a small dirt parking lot across the street from the actual trailhead. Trail access is open from dawn to dusk. I would imagine parking is more crowded during the cooler months when the hills are more green.
Monserate Mountain Trail Pictures:
Who Monserate Mountain Is For:
Novice Hikers: This is a great trail for beginner hikers. The significant amount of elevation in just under two miles can be a worthy challenge. For those not familiar with hiking hills in Southern California, this trial will give a good vantage point of the suburban sprawl and larger peaks of the area. 

Advanced Hikers: It might be worth a try if you need to really get outside for a bit and want a photo op with the American flag at the top. 

Expert Hikers: I’d honestly take the extra time to drive the short distance into the Cleveland National Forest or Palomar Mountain if I lived nearby. But hey, a couple miles outside beats a couple miles on the Stair Master at the gym. 

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

Best Time Of Year To Hike Monserate Mountain:
Like most Southern California hills, the best time to hike this trail will be during the cooler months in late fall, winter, and to late spring. Seasonal rains during the winter and spring will bring green hills and wildflowers to the area. Avoid this trail during the hot mid-day heat during the late spring, summer, and early fall. The distance of the trail is short enough to be able to do this hike before the hottest hours of the day. There is no shade along the path. 

It’s always a good idea to check the weather prior to hiking.

Monserate Mountain Trail Conditions:
This trail is very well maintained by the Fallbrook Land Conservancy and volunteers. Most of the trail is made up of loose soil and small granite rocks. This trail can be hiked as an out and back or as a lollipop trail. Doing the trail in a clockwise fashion will be a steeper and shorter route to the top. Going the opposite way will be more of a gradual slope along a utility road. The utility road leads up to a water tower that is near the peak of Monserate Mountain.

There are portions along the trail that have been washed out and eroded from rainfall runoff. Some portions of the trail are also overgrown with low lying chaparral. Use caution going through these parts of the trail. Rattlesnakes are very common here and could be seeking shade from the heat along the trail edges. There is no poison oak in the canyon.