Distance: 7 miles round trip on trail
Summit Elevation: 1194' (Kwaay Paay), 1291' (Fortuna)
Prominence: 434' (Kwaay Paay), 411' (Fortuna)
Elevation Gain: 1983'
Elevation Gain (in Empire State Buildings): 1.58
Round trip time: 3 hours 15 minutes
Recommended water: 72 oz.
Parking/Fees: Free at Mission Gorge Road
Difficulty: Moderate (combined)
After finishing Cowles and Pyles Peak, I made the 5 minute drive to the other side of Mission Trails Regional Park for the other two peaks. When I first saw the name Kwaay Paay, I thought it might be Hawaiian, but it is derived from a local Indian tribe. From the Kwaay Paay trailhead, it is a straight shot up the ridge to the indistinct summit. Near the top of the first hill, I spotted my first rattlesnake of the year. It was about 3' long, not quite an adult, but a nice healthy snake. I fumbled my phone trying to get a picture before it crossed the trail, but was already in the bushes before I could get a photo. I walked toward the bush and it gave me one rattle before disappearing. It is almost a 900' grind up to the summit. There is a summit-like clearing near the top, but the high point seemed to be left of the trail and across the wooden fence. I wandered over to the actual summit, but found no benchmark or register at either location. I finished off my food for the day and started down. Before reaching the bottom, I swerved left toward the visitors center and the trail to Fortuna. I had to give up every bit of gain.
The trail to Fortuna (higher north summit) starts by going around the Mission Dam. Then it follows Oak Canyon, a very relaxing trail that should have had multiple stream crossings, except there was very little water in the stream. It was not flowing except at the very start, and only a few pools remained from the winter drought. After you exit the canyon, the work starts as you ascend to Fortuna saddle, then turn right up to the higher north summit. A pole marks the Fortuna summit. I finished the last of my gatorade and only had an 8 oz bottle of water to get me back to the car. That wasn't a problem since it was less than 3 miles. I searched for a register, but ended up 0-4 on the day. These last two peaks only had a few other hikers on them, clearly not as popular as Cowles. The combined 4 peaks on the day gave me 12.9 miles and 3693' of gain. Not bad for fast food peaks.
Would you like to know more...?