San Diego recommendations please!

Looks like I will have the weekend of 11-12th February free in San Diego to play SOTA. Will have a car. Hints, tips and recommendations please! :smiley:

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I replied direct with a bit more, but best resource would be: | Home And there are at least 4 San Diego SOTA youtubers.

Have fun!



Thanks Drew - I replied to you direct too!

I thought I saw I response from @W6PNG here too, but it seems to have gone now? Sure he suggested a couple of summits that I liked the look of, maybe I dreamt it?


I just did the same trip in October. W6/CC-014 Cuyamaca and SC-029 Stonewall are directly across the street from one another and easily accessed by 45 min drive from downtown. Great hikes both in state parks. At home I normally use a throwline for putting up antennas versus a mast, but a mast is required on SD summits which are desert.

I’d also recommend W6/SC-214 Iron Mtn, a scenic hike on a good trail through the sagebrush prevalent throughout SD. I did this hike a bunch as a college kid before SOTA.

Lastly, W6/SC-335 Cowles Mtn is in the city and a great urban hike. I believe it’s a 1-pointer but the view is worth it.

Have fun.

Matt W7MDN


Thanks to the tips here, and some direct from @W9SSN, I have a few targets in mind:

Thursday: Cuyamaca, Stonewall and maybe 5764
Friday: Viejas, Gaskill and Sycuan
Saturday: Maybe some one pointers close to San Diego/coffee/food :smiley:
Sunday: In a bar with US colleagues for the Super Bowl (I don’t even know if it’s one word or two!)

I’ll be on 20/30/40m CW and maybe 2m FM.

Similar to Top Gear, I am ambitious but rubbish, so it remains to be seen if any of this happens.

Edit: May swap Friday and Saturday plans to do summits closer to San Diego on a week day.


Had a lovely time in San Diego! Nice to get some winter warmth. The walks, mountains, activating and Mexican food are all highly recommended!

Followed everyone’s advice, from this thread, some DMs, SOTL.AS and the usual sources. All of which is much appreciated.

Day 1
Felt a LOT ropier than expected due to the travelling and jet-lag, so an easy day was called for. Started with the pretty much drive up W6/SC-352 Mount Helix. KX2 with the AX-1 (room for something bigger, but it was busy-ish) on CW. Tried the local 2M frequency suggested by @N7DA on my Baofeng but no joy. I think maybe channels are different in the US and I needed to change settings, but I’m lazy and had my contacts so didn’t bother. Something to investigate for next time.

Next a short and uneventful 20 minute walk up W6/SC-366 Dictionary Hill. Good views for not much effort at all! Plenty of room here and no one around so up went the @K6ARK trapped EFHW for 20/30/40M.

Finally, after a short drive, a slightly longer walk up W6/SC-355 Cowles Mountain. Again, great views for the effort and the KX2 AX1 combo getting me out across the US on 20m CW. The cafe right across from the car park at the trail head was sadly closed when I got down, but if you like a fancy coffee and a pastry Honey Haven across the road is nice. Although we have different views on what constitutes a flat white.

View from operating position on W6/SC-352 Mount Helix.

@K6ARK trapped EFHW for 20/30/40M on W6/SC-366 Dictionary Hill

View from the operating position on W6/SC-335 Cowles Mountain

View of the City from Cowles Mountain

Day 2
Felt a bit brighter, 45 min - 1 hour drive out of town is the lovely Cuyamaca Rancho state park. Parked at the car park / camp site at the trail head and followed the road up to W6/CC-014 Cuyamaco Peak. Still some snow (actually ice) on the road in places, was glad of my micro spikes but could have managed without them - they were on and off a lot as it was patchy. Great views from the top. KX2 and EFHW again.

Down for lunch (Garage/gas station burrito. Classy. I think it’s the local equivalent of a Ginsters). Across the road and then up WC/SC-029 Stonewall peak. It was a bit busy, a bit breezy and there wasn’t much room at the top. A combo of focussing on not dropping stuff down the rock face and being a bit tired meant I neglected to get a photo at the top. Which is a shame, as it probably would’ve been one of the better ones!

Both of these were enjoyable hikes, with easy road / trail to follow which is nice when you are in tourist mode. I was feeling a bit tired and debated doing the final peak, but it was only a 20-30 minute drive away and a short-ish walk, so went for it. Felt a bit out in the middle of nowhere, so I took it steady. Hadn’t been that big a day, but I was somewhere very new to me, driving on a different side of the road etc. so find it all a bit more tiring. Again, W6/SD-026 5764 is a nice summit that was worth the short walk, KX2 and AX1 again on 20M to make it quick and easy.

View from the operating position on W6/CC-014 Cuyamaca Peak

View just down from the summit of W6/SC-029 Stonewall Peak (it was even better from the top!)

View from the operating position on W6/SD-026 5764

Day 3
An easier day slightly nearer town, around 30 mins drive from San Diego Old Town where I was staying to W6/CC-039 Viejas Mountain. About a 45 minute walk pretty much straight up, again cracking views for the effort. Nice two room(!) cairn / wind shelter at the top, complete with rock table in the room I bagged which made for very comfortable operating in the sunshine. AX1 again. There was room for the EFHW but lots of bushes for it to get tangled in. I find sometimes I don’t get a great match on the AX1, even with the KX2 tuner - eg finishes around 2:1 or worse. But if that happens on one of the bands, it’s usually better on the other. This encouraged me onto 17M after being on 20M for a bit, due to the better match on 17M. Glad I did as @F4WBN chased me for my only DX contact of the trip. Despite (because of?) thinking this was my chance to achieve one of my stated 2023 objectives of getting his callsign right the first time on CW I failed. Miserably. Still, I got a S2S with @wG0AT as consolation, which was nice as his videos inspired me towards CW SOTA. High on a very enjoyable activation I headed down in the sunshine to celebrate with another classy lunch, this time at In-n-out burger.

W6/CC-039 Viejas Mountain view

Viejas Mountain action selfie!

Another short drive, and then the final summit of the trip W6/SC-203 Sycuan Peak. Theme continued with a short walk and great views. KX2 and EFHW again this time. Nice to get @W9SSN in the log as he recommended this (and some other) peaks. Also, I think @WU7H chased me on a large proportion of the summits over the 3 days.

W6/SC-203 Sycuan Peak view

Sycuan peak operating position, and trusty EFHW again

If you can’t tell, I had a great time and would second the recommendations I got for these peaks for visitors to the area. Thanks again for those recommendations, and for all the chasers dealing with my iffy CW!



Very nice! I’d say you got the full San Diego SOTA circuit with these peaks. There are certainly more out there but these are some of the best!

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Great trip report Tony. It was fun chasing you - glad you had a great trip! Safe travels.



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I’ve found that using a smallish cap hat on the AX-1 helps with the SWR. I followed (copied) what Linas, LY2H did here: How to get Elecraft AX1 antenna working with ICOM IC-705 transceiver without the antenna tuner! - YouTube If you don’t want to watch the whole video, start at 6:31 where he describes the capacity hat. It actually works pretty good - I use the KX2 in turner bypass mode :wink:

Thanks for the contact too. San Diego great/fun place to hang out and play radio. I spend quite a bit of time down there myself…

73, Todd KH2TJ

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Before checking the video, I was thinking it won’t be for me as I like to keep things simple. But I reckon I can manage a croc clip and a few small bits of wire! I think I’ll give it a try, thanks @KH2TJ Todd slight_smile:

Nice pics/report Tony! Glad to get you in the log a few times when you were there. SD is my old stomping grounds. Definitely miss it every now and then. Next time you are in town, make sure to get a breakfast burrito at “El Indio.” You can thank me later :wink:

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Looks like you had a great tour of the area! Nice!

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Noted :grinning: