Saddle Up—Iron Mountain

Equestrians wanting a close and challenging ride can give Iron Mountain a run for the money.

Many of you may not be aware that Poway has opened the trail to equestrians. It pretty much has always been a multiuse trail, but with the lovely and safer new staging area for parking, horse trailers are now allowed and horses can be on the trail.

I talked with Poway’s parks representative way back in February to inquire about access for horse folks at Iron Mountain and was told that, indeed, the intentions were to allow horses. I decided to wait to tell you about until all of the construction was done and it was ready to use.

Of course I anticipate it being too hot to ride out here for a while, but fall, winter and spring will provide cooler weather for riding, of course. 

The staging area is nice and has restrooms available with vault toilets. There is no water available and this area can get really hot, even if the breeze is blowing. The parking is not the most horse friendly, but it is appreciated that it’s available for our use. There are no tie rails and room is tight to say the least.

I always see the parking lot (staging area) packed full on weekends and most evenings, but if your timing is right you can park with room to tack up your horse. Weekdays are probably your best bet for decent parking. 

The Iron Mountain trail is just over six miles. At the present time it is out and back, but I am hoping to work toward opening the Ramona side of the hill and get some trails on our side of the mountain. The trail could be very near in Ramona, presently not open to equestrian trail use.

One of my good friends is an avid hiker and she enjoys Iron Mountain and the challenge it provides. She loves the “good workout” trudging up the hill. I think she’s crazy.

At the Iron Mountain parking area there is a small, wooden bridge at the trail head and many a horse have never had the experience of crossing a bridge. The change from dirt to wood and the hollow sound can scare your horse, so try to prepare and practice before your visit.

The terrain is rugged and rocky most of the way. At the top of the hill there is a mailbox that contains a guestbook, a cute way for folks to share their experience. I have to admit, I have never seen another trail with this idea, and they’ve done this on Iron Mountain for years. It’s fun to read about others’ adventures out there. The sweeping views of the area are beautiful, and on a clear day you can see all the way to the ocean. 

Iron Mountain is open to all trail users including bicyclists and hikers and is quite popular with trail runners. Areas of the trail are steep and there are places that will require your pony pal to think as large rocks and rock steps or wooden steps make the trail a challenge, especially on the way down.

There are areas of the trail that are more like a ranch road, but honestly, I wouldn’t recommend this trail to most of the equestrians I know. Some of you will want a challenge like this, so strap on those Cavallo equine boots—Cricket’s are pink—put on your helmet and try out Iron Mountain if you’re up for a challenging ride, in the cooler fall weather.

tom Comeau September 05, 2011 at 01:42 PM
Somewhat of a nice buildup for a trail that you would not recommend for most of the equestrians you know, wouldn't you say??
Sharkey September 05, 2011 at 04:59 PM
You've got to be kidding! That trail would be a challenge even for experienced riders. There is very little room to negotiate many sections of the trails and hikers in general, are not knowledgeable about sharing a trail with horses. With the hoards of hikers now using the trail, many of them children, this will be a disaster. And the horse manure in the narrow confines of those canyons will degrade the experience for the hikers as well. IMO, no experienced trail rider would attempt that trail given the amount of hikers on it.
Scott Coleman September 06, 2011 at 12:10 AM
Iron Mountain certainly is a nice hike, but I can't imagine trying to ride a horse up there, as Sharkey says. I've gone up a few times with my Labrador, and even walking with a dog is difficult in some of those narrow passages, and I often have to find a wide part of the trail to wait for oncoming hikers to pass. A horse on that trail (especially the more narrow parts near the edges) sounds like a horrible accident waiting to happen. The Ellie Lane trails may be a better area for horses, since those are trails through rolling hills, and far less steep and narrow than the mountain trail.
Karen Carlson September 07, 2011 at 02:43 AM
Thank you all for your thoughts and comments.
Carol Rae May 29, 2012 at 03:43 PM
i actually rode Iron Mt. many, many years ago. But not to the top. I parked at the Ellie Lane staging area and went up from there. NOT a good idea. We made it but it was not fun.


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