Monserate Mountain: A Challenging Hike in Fallbrook

One of the best mountain hikes in North San Diego County is the Monserate Mountain trail “system” maintained by the Fallbrook Land Conservancy (FLC) in this community just south of Temecula. For some it can be a leisurely but strenuous hike up and down, while for the more adventurous it is a workout taking on the trail to set a personal best time.

Because of the often rough footing, particularly at the lower portion of the trail, decent footwear is recommended as is at least a quart or two of water.

The average elevation throughout the Fallbrook area is approximately 500–700 feet above sea level, however, the climb up the main trail of Monserate Mountain takes you more than 1500 feet up the mountain. While that’s not enough to induce the kind of hypoxia associated with Alpine hiking, sections of steep ascent can aerobically tax even the fittest, though many area octogenarians routinely make the round trip in relatively fast times approaching an hour.

Younger and more agile trail runners easily halve those times. But so far no one is posting or recording trail records!

Hikespeak has an expansive run-down on the Monserate Mountain area trail system at

Easily accessible from I-15, this rugged collection of branching trails can be treated as an up/down trail of approximately four miles in length, bottom to top round trip, Or, from the same trailhead there are branches that lead off to explore other adjacent areas to this part of the Fallbrook Land Conservancy’s collection of recreation areas here.

From either the CA 76 off ramp (go north on Old 395) or the Mission Rd. off ramp (south on Old 395) turn onto Canonita Rd. and head east under the freeway. The parking are for the trailhead is on the right where Stewart Canyon rd. becomes Horse Creek Ranch Rd.

Organized hikes led by a wide variety of different organizations occur with some frequency, among the more notable are those sponsored by North County Fire Protection District to support the Wounded Warriors Project and the National Fallen Firefighters to honor those who perished in the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

Monserate Mountain Preserve started with acquisition by the FLC of 225 acres in 2000. The conservancy added another 115 acres in 2003 and 2004, which brought the total size of the preserve to its current 340 acres, though several parts of the trail system cross private land and traverse paved roads outside the preserve.

Dogs on a leash and even mountain bikes are acceptable and the Fallbrook Land Conservancy periodically conducts trail maintenance hikes on the trails. The FLC is always looking for members and volunteers to help with trail clean-up and maintenance.

Contact FLC either at 760–728–0889 or check out the conservancy website: for more information about the non-profit organization’s San Diego and Riverside county preserves, trails, activities, and involvement and membership opportunities.

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