North Fortuna & South Fortuna Trails – Conquering Mission Trails Challenges

Hiking is fun, especially with family and friends! Would you like to experience the beauty of natural landscapes that offer a breathtaking panoramic view of some very beautiful nature? However, to enjoy the hike and avoid getting lost along the way, it’s important to understand where you are going.

Have you ever hiked in Mission Trails Regional Park, one of the most popular hiking areas in San Diego? Let’s learn about one of these famous trails, which has two parts.


mission trails regional park


1. North/South Fortuna Loop Via Fortuna Saddle

This trail spans a distance of approximately 7.6 miles, with an elevation change of about 2,542 ft. You enter from the Tierrasanta entrance, go through to North Fortuna Mountain all the way to South Fortuna Mountain, then across the saddle, down and back to the beginning.

This trail is well known for hiking, trail running, walking and nature trips, among other activities. It is accessible all year round, apart from seasons when there is severe rainfall that would make the area impassable. However, the best time to hike is between January and April when the temperatures are cool and the park is greener, thus more beautiful.


South and North Fortuna Overview


Is it safe? Yes, this is a safe trail other than rattlesnakes which might surprise you during the hike. Keep an eye on the path and listen to that familiar rattling sound nearby. Be prepared with your cell phone, first aid kit, water, hiking boots and water in case of any emergencies. Take heed of the steep heights and dress appropriately to be on the safe side. If you drop any litter, make sure to collect it to keep the environment clean. If you love wildflowers and wildfruits, you can bring a few back with you. They are beautiful!

If you have a pet, you can trail along with them; however, you must ensure that you keep them on a leash. You should not take them if the dirt will be hot that day, or if there has been a lot of snake sightings around that time.

If you are fit, this 7.6 miles will take about 3 to 4 hours to finish, although the time might vary depending on a number of factors.


Let’s Start Out From The Tierrasanta Entrance

From this entrance, you will head over to the park over the bridge and follow the signs that have ‘North Fortuna’ posted on them. On your way, you will cross many trails, although you don’t have to stick to one trail. Trek ahead by following the signs until you get to the tallest mountain in the park.


fortuna from tierrasanta entrance


The North Fortuna Mountain Bottom

Now you are at the bottom of North Fortuna Mountain. To hike to the top, you will start climbing the summit after approximately half a mile. After about 2.3 miles, the trail will split right and left. Head right and after about 3 miles, you will reach the North Fortuna Summit. At this point, you can smile, rest a bit, play a few games, or find a few treasures as you enjoy the paronamic view of the South Fortuna Mountain and Cowles mountain off in the distance.

From North Fortuna Summit

From the North Fortuna Summit, head down to the Fortuna Saddle at about 3.3 miles and then head up South Fortuna Mountain. You will hit the South Fortuna Summit at approximately 3.96 miles, which is around 200 feet lower than the North Summit. Keep heading south and at about 4.33 miles, you will get a nice view of the gorge.


north fortuna summit


Heading Back Down

After having enough rest, head west back down to the park floor. Follow the trail and at about 5.15 miles, you will cross the little creek area, then start heading back to the start of the hike.

Trek To The Beginning Of The Trail

You are almost done! At approximately 5.45 miles, you will come to a road. Follow the road up and head to the right as you head back. You will meet another road at about 5.8 miles and at this point, take the right that is heading Northeast for a little less than a mile. From this point, take another trail on your left and this will take you back to the trail head. Relax and enjoy Mother Nature at this point. I hope you’ve had fun!


2. Fortuna Mountains Loop Via Grasslands Crossing

Hiking the Fortuna Mountains through Grasslands Crossing is 7.1 miles, with an elevation gain of 1,354 ft. The minimum elevation is 305 ft and the maximum is 1,292 ft. The trekking time is approximately 3-4 hours, though you are likely to experience some difficulty along the way due to the steep terrain, rocks and bridges which can break during the rainy season. In addition, you are likely to encounter wild animals such as rattlesnakes on this trail, so keep your eyes open. However, the trail is well marked, well maintained, and very easy to follow, even with your dog.


hikers on fortuna


To hike the Fortuna Mountains through the Grasslands Crossing, you start out on the North Perimeter Trail or the Spring Canyon trail. For an easy trail, let’s start out from the Spring Canyon trail and head back through the North Perimeter Trail.

From Spring Canyon Trail

Start out from this trail that is located at the north end of the East Fortuna staging area. At approximately 0.4 miles, this trail intersects with the North Perimeter Loop Trail and the Grasslands Loop. Although both trails will get you to your destination, let’s follow the Grasslands Loop Trail. At about 0.8 miles, this trail will run along a wooden fence and you will follow it due south along the fence.


spring canyon trail on a sunny day


Head for the Oak Canyon Trail

At about 1 mile, leave the grasslands for the Oak Canyon trail. This trail runs along a shaded creek for about .2 miles before getting into a little more exposure. At about 1.3 miles, you will notice that this creek takes a turn as the trail heads east and swells with a lot of water. Be careful on this stretch of the hike with your footwear, since the rocky trail can become loose in some areas.

Fortuna Saddle Trail

At about 1.6 miles, the Oak Canyon Trail crosses the Fortuna Trail. Head east to the Fortuna Saddle Trail and you will note that it will begin to get steep. After about .6 miles, you will gain an elevation of about 500 ft. Walk carefully at this point to avoid falling off. After about 2.2 miles, you will reach the Fortuna Saddle, then head to the 1,094 ft South Fortuna Summit, which is approximately 2.8 miles away.


fortuna saddle trail stairs


Once at the summit, sit, relax and enjoy the view before heading down the saddle to North Fortuna. After about 3.4 miles, you will get to the Fortuna Saddle. Walk ahead and at approximately 4 miles, you will get to the 1,291 ft North Fortuna Summit. Have you enjoyed the trail? Once you’ve had enough rest and enjoyed the view of the landscape, you can return back just the way you arrived through the Fortuna Saddle Trail.


North Fortuna & South Fortuna Trails Conclusion

Hiking is fun, great exercise, and a great group activity! Always be keen on the directions and the sign board when hiking to avoid getting lost along the way. In addition, when preparing to hike on these trails, always carry your cell phone, your emergency kit, trekking poles, snacks, extra shoes, clothing and water to be on the safe side.