• Activities:

    Photography, Hiking

  • Skill Level:


  • Season:

    Year Round

  • Trail Type:


  • RT Distance:

    2.8 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    850 Feet

Easy Parking
Family Friendly

This is a short but relatively intense hike that will get your quads firing on all cylinders, and reward you with a 360 degree view. Time it right, and you will see the sunset over the Pacific Ocean, illuminating the landscape from downtown San Diego to La Jolla, and eastward to San Diego's mountain ranges.

Park your car in the small gravel parking lot at the southwest corner of Father Junipero Serra Trail and Bushy Hill Drive (this is especially important if you plan to take the sunset hike, so you'll be outside the locked park gate when you descend). There will be other hikers parked there, but I've never had any problem finding a spot. Walk a short distance westward along the road (Junipero Serra) until you reach the trailhead on the left (south side) of the road, then get ready to start climbing.  

The ascent is a moderately steep and winding trail up the north face of the mountain. There are a few fairly level spots where you can stop, take a much-needed sip of water, and take in the beautiful views. But your real reward awaits you after climbing a series of stairs that lead up a mostly straight and steep final ascent, before leveling out through the chaparral and arriving at a clear and unobstructed 360-degree view. At this point, you will see downtown San Diego, La Jolla, a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean, and the vast array of mountain ranges that span East County.  

As your quads cool down, and you enjoy the setting sun and cool ocean breezes, you will find yourself planning your next hiking adventure at one of the other four major peaks within the Mission Trails Regional Park.  If you hike all five peaks, you can get a certificate for completing the "Five Peak Challenge" by either going to the Visitors Center (One Father Junipero Serra Trail, San Diego, 92119) or by visiting their website. The real challenge is to do all five in one day!  

The Kwaay Paay hike is a relatively short one and only the second highest peak out of the five, but it's very rewarding and a great kick-off to your goal of ascending the other four peaks within the park, or beyond!

Pack List

  1. Water
  2. Sturdy nonslip hiking shoes (for loose soil/gravel areas)
  3. Hiking poles (optional)
  4. Visor or sunglasses
  5. Camera
  6. Bandana (you will sweat)
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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Todd Linke

I am a person who loves to get the most out of every minute of life! I am a high school science teacher, and I'm big into healthy living. I'm vegan, play tennis socially and competitively, frequent the gym, and of course I'm an adventure seeker.

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