Monserate Mountain is located in the 340-acre Monserate Mountain Preserve owned by The Fallbrook Land Conservancy and is open to the public. Monserate is a small mountain, but don't let its low elevation fool you. The trail is quite steep gaining 1183 feet in 1.6 miles. For how short of a hike it is, the views from the summit are very rewarding. You have views of nearby mountain ranges and can see the Pacific Ocean on a clear day.
View from summit
View from summit
Exit Interstate 15 onto Highway 76, drive west no more than half a mile to Old Highway 395. Turn right heading north onto Old Highway 395, drive for about 2.5 miles until you reach Stewart Canyon Road which will be on your right (be sure to pay attention it is easy to miss.) Turn right onto Stewart Canyon Road you will drive underneath Interstate 15 and come to a T with Pankey Road, you will see Monserate directly in front of you. Turn right onto Pankey Road and park on the right side of the road, there will be lots of space for parking. After you park you will see the trail head on the other side of the road.
Parking area and trail head
The most common way to hike Monserate is out and back from the trail head off of Pankey Road on the west slope of the mountain. It is a well marked 1.6 mile trail to the summit with 1183 feet of gain. About 200 yard after leaving the road you will come to a gate and enter into Monserate Mountain Preserve.
Gate to Monserate Mountain Preserve
A little more then half a mile from the gate you will come to a intersection with a paved fire road, go left. The pavement will soon fade back into a dirt.
Continue up to the left
Over the next mile you will pass 2 more trail splits, at both continue on the trail that is in front of you and going uphill.
Eventually you will come to another intersection with the trail going in 3 directions. There will be a false summit to your left and to your right will be a trail leading to the water tower loop. The summit will be in front of you.
Summit is in the center
The summit is very noticeable with a large pile of rocks, a registry box and USGS marker.
Essentially, if you follow the trail leading up hill you will easily find the summit.
Another option for hiking is to make a loop. On the way down from the summit turn left onto the trail heading towards the water tower. The trail begins as dirt and will turn into pavement. Follow the road until you come to the very first intersection you came to and head down the way you originally came. The loop will be a total of apporoximately 4.1 miles.
No fee or permit required. Parking is free along Pankey Road next to the trail head.