Santee Mesa Trail: A Great 1.9-Mile Beginner Hike

Trail Stats

1.89 miles
Elevation Gain
413 feet
Total Time
58 minutes
Moving Time
49 minutes

Santee Mesa Trail is a 1.89-mile trail with 413 feet of elevation gain and is part of Mission Trails Regional Park located in Santee, California. This is a quick trail with some great views, that just stops at a random intersection. This is perfect for an introduction to hiking or bringing the family along.

Parking & Getting There

Parking at Santee Mesa Trail can be a bit tricky depending on your vehicle and how busy the lot is. Parking is located at the end of Mesa Road and will require driving on a little patch of dirt road. In addition, once you get to the parking lot it is pretty narrow when people park in the actual spaces, and then parallel park along the backside of the cars.

If you have a larger car this is something that you will want to be aware of. It might be a squeeze getting into the spot if it is busy. Also with the road being in poor condition, if you have a low-rider, you might want to consider if this is the right trail for you.

Santee Mesa Trail

Santee Mesa Trail starts by walking down a fire road until you meet up with the trailhead. The fire road is wide and easy to navigate. Once hopping on the trail you will begin to gain some elevation with a decently wide trail.

The trail is easy to follow, but the key point to understand is this trail just ends in the middle of the trail system. You will not end up at a peak, or simple point of interest. It stops at a 3-way intersection of trails. At the end of this trail you do get some great views on a clear day. It will be up to you if you want to turn around or explore further.

You won’t find any bathrooms on this trail, but luckily it is short enough and close to the city that is shouldn’t be an issue.

On your way up you will find a combination of shade and direct sun exposer. On the warmer days it will be important to bring plenty of water and sun protection.

One thing I did like about this trail is that it was very easy to follow, had mild elevation, and was rewarded with some nice views. I would definitely come back with my kids so they could explore with me and not be on a highly crowded trail like Cowles Mountain.

While I was on the trail I ran into a large group the was exploring the different flowers, bugs, and even poop! They were having a great time and seemed to be learning a lot about nature. This did create a bit of a traffic jam on the way down, but that did not bother me. I love seeing people out in nature and enjoying!

Photo Gallery

Wrap Up

Overall Santee Mesa Trail was a great beginner trail. One that you could bring the family to and build up your hiking experience and confidence. What is your favorite part of the experience? Drop a comment down below to get the conversation started!

While reading into this trail a bit more I came across an article about who owns mesa road and why it has not been revamped. It is quite the interesting read.

Is there a specific hike that you would like to see next? Leave a comment down below or reach out via the Contact Form and hopefully I will be able to get a recap and virtual hike posted soon! Thanks for stopping by, enjoy your adventure.

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