Location: Roughly 5 miles east of Poway
Best for: Breaking a quick sweat, midweek hikes, bouldering, getting well-acquainted with the UV Index
Just outside Poway, Iron Mountain can -- fittingly -- feel a lot like a hot iron skillet when you’re on it due to the lack of shade on the peak. That said, the roughly 6-mile loop is a perfect hike for those looking to get in a good, quick workout that still packs some technical hiking.
As it's manageable for hikers of most any skill level (as long as you pack sunscreen and water), the dusty trail can get pretty busy on the weekends, so you should try to hit the hike midweek, early morning, or late afternoon if you can. With mostly stable, easy footing, the trail offers fantastic running opportunities, while the granite boulders that line it make up some of the better bouldering terrain in the county.
The trail itself starts off flat before gradually gaining pitch as it builds into the eastern mountains and finishes with a wonderful, 360-degree view of the surrounding hills and San Vicente Reservoir. It’s a great way to sneak in an outdoor workout, while still feeling like you’re truly out in nature.