Standing over the Northern Edge of Mission Trails Regional Park in San Diego is the oft-climbed Fortuna Mtn. It may not be an expedition, but this peak has incredible views ranging from Mexico to the South, the Laguna Mountains to the East, Mt. San Jacinto to the North and the Coronado Islands and Pacific Ocean to the West. It can be climbed in an hour from the base, but most hikers enjoy approaching from the waterfalls and creek crossings of Oak Canyon.
Fortuna Loop: From the Jackson Drive trailhead, start North toward the obvious River canyon ahead. The River crossing may be too difficult during particularly bad downpours, but is usually no problem to cross. Continue up the trail to a fork and head to the right. You will see a sign pointing the way to Fortuna, but an optional way is to take a more exhilarating trip down Suycott Wash and up the steep ascent to South Fortuna. The trail then leads to a saddle and Fortuna can be climbed from here. Total distance from trailhead to the summit is approximately 3.2 miles. Proceed down the North Side of the Mountain to another fork and turn right. This will lead you to Oak Canyon. Continue through Oak Canyon until you reach the Old Mission Dam, and join the Junipero Serra Trail. This trail will lead you to the Visitor Center. Take the Visitor Center Loop for a mile and you will be back at the Jackson Drive trailhead. Total distance for the loop: 9.6 miles with 2,600 feet of elevation gain/loss.
Take Interstate 8 in San Diego West to Jackson Drive and head North. Jackson Dr. ends as a parking lot at the trailhead.
Though Fortuna Mountain has a seemingly miniscule place in American history, the trail up is hallowed nonetheless. Fortuna stood for many years in an area used by the US Marines known as Camp Elliott. Many of these Marines were the same units which climbed/fought up Iwo Jima. They trained on this mountain and it will forever echo their footsteps marching up.
No permits necessary. No parking overnight in the lots.
When To Climb
I recommend climbing Fortuna Mtn in the Rainy Season (February through April) because of the many waterfalls that appear in in the Oak Canyon area next to the mountain. Plus, there is an unusual amount of solitude during this time considering that it is within the San Diego city limits.
Kumeyaay Lake Campground lies at the base of the mountain.