Eagle Peak is one of three San Diego’s well established multi pitch climbing areas. It is located near Descanso and out of all three areas, Eagle Peak offers the shortest approach of about 45min. from car to climb. To the joy of many climbers most of the hiking is downhill because Eagle Peak is typically approached from the top. The trail shares the same start with San Diego’s popular “Three Sisters Waterfall” hike.
Eagle Peak has anything from 5.8 to 5.12 rock climbing with the bulk of the routes in the 5.10 to 5.11 range. After topping out you will be right at your lunch and stash, one of the great reasons to have the boulder stash. Hiking back to the trail head often seems a bit harder after a long day of rock climbing and also the fact that a slightly downhill trail to the cliff turns into a slightly uphill way back ;).
How to find the main area climbs:
After about a mile of hiking, the fire road splits at an obvious left turn that leads down to the waterfall. For rock climbing at Eagle Peak follow the small deer trail straight towards slightly uphill terrain (do not go down to the waterfall!). From there keep going for about 20 to 30 minutes on a narrow but obvious trail. Make note of the last section that is steeper than anything else. On the hill there is an obvious split where the trail goes left or right. Each option leads to a different part of the cliff. If you want to go rock climbing at the summit area of Eagle Peak, go right but for the main area hang a left. For first time visitors it is recommended to go left to the main area since it has the more popular climbing and does not require rappelling in. One of the highlights of the main area is the right side alcove that features the highest concentration of steep sport climbing in San Diego with amazing climbs.
Shortly after taking the left turn you will reach the notch. This is a very obvious landmark because it reveals a gorgeous view into the valley. You know that you are right when you see the beautiful San Diego river way down there. At this point you also see a beautiful 100feet tower to your right and you may discover a tiny fraction of the actual massive Eagle Peak cliff band. At this point take the small and steep trail downhill. At Eagle Peak it is very important to establish a gear stash for everything that you don’t want to bring on the climb. A big boulder that sits on the edge of the cliff has proven to be the best stash for everything that is not needed for the ascent (e.g. Extra layers, food and big climbing packs). That boulder is somewhat obvious but often hard to notice in a field of granite (especially for first time visitors). The trick to find it is aiming towards the very obvious 100feet tower. Once your are level with the tower there is a small quite exposed trail that hugs along the steep hillside directly to the tower. Pass by the tower and 2-4 minutes later you are almost at the edge of the cliff. When there stay left to quickly locate the boulder. This boulder provides an excellent source of shade and nice seating perfect for getting racked up, storing gear and enjoying a beautiful view. From there it is relatively close to the climbing (10 minutes). From the boulder follow the small trail downhill. After 2 minutes or less the cliffside reveals itself more and more. This is truly a beautiful moment because you finally get to see the majestic view onto Eagle Peak. Keep going and pick your route for some awesome rock climbing.