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East County News Service

May 26, 2016 (Lakeside) -- Remember our service members this Memorial Day with an unforgettable ascent up El Capitan. 

The County of San Diego Department of Parks and Recreation will host the “Warrior Challenge” hike at El Capitan Preserve on Monday, May 30. The levels of hike are named to honor veterans’ sacrifice and service.

El Capitan, also known as El Cajon Mountain, has the reputation of being one of San Diego County’s most challenging hikes with its rugged landscape, steep switchbacks and peaks featuring breathtaking views from the mountains to the ocean. But hikers of all abilities can enjoy the natural beauty of El Cajon Mountain by selecting one of three levels in this weekend’s Warrior Challenge.

The “Boot Camp” level will give active families and beginning hikers a chance to enjoy a quick, steep climb to the ridge for a beautiful view of eastern San Diego. This trail is 2 miles round-trip. It should take approximately 1 hour.

More skilled hikers can continue onto the next peak in the moderate “Recon” level. This trek is best suited for teens and adults in good shape. It is roughly 6 miles round-trip and should take 2 to 3 hours.

Finally, experienced adventurers can traverse to the top of El Capitan in the “Warrior” level. This strenuous hike is just over 11 miles and includes multiple inclines and declines with several hundred feet of elevation gain and loss. It can take up to 7 hours.

Both the Boot Camp and Recon-level hikes start between 8 and 11 a.m. at 13775 Blue Sky Road in Lakeside. The Warrior-level hike starts promptly at 8 a.m.

Healthy refreshments will be available at turnaround points on the trail. Plus there’s a raffle.

There is very little shade along the trail. Participants should wear sturdy hiking boots, sunscreen, and sunglasses or a hat. Hiking poles are encouraged.  All hikers should bring plenty of water - Warriors should bring at least 1 gallon.

Parking will be limited at the trailhead. Additional parking is available at nearby Oakoasis Preserve, located at 12620 Wildcat Canyon Road, and Louis Stelzer County Park, at 11470 Wildcat Canyon Road.

County Parks staff will be on site to answer questions. For more information, call (858) 966-1331.

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