Distance: 3 miles round trip cross country
Summit Elevation: 1720'
Elevation Gain: 933'
Elevation Gain (in Empire State Buildings): 0.74
Round trip time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Recommended water: 32 oz.
Parking/Fees: Free on Sweeny Pass Road (S2)
Red Hill is part of the Volcanic Hills and #88 on the SDC list. It was another short hike, though the terrain was a little deceptive. The trailhead is a large circular turnout on the west side of Sweeny Pass Road. If you head directly toward the summit, you will have to traverse up and down several canyons. The easiest route is to head south, then approach it from the east.
On the way out, I did not go far enough south and had to scramble down a crumbling canyon wall before starting up again. Heading up a small gully, I startled a jack rabbit, the only wild life I saw the whole day. I veered south to avoid a second down climb before starting my final approach from the east. As I got closer to Red Hill, the landscape became littered with smooth, red lava bricks. Larger volcanic boulders piled up on the slopes of Red Hill, requiring some easy class 2 in places. The summit plateau was very large with multiple possible high points. The closest potential high point lacked the trappings of a Sierra Club summit, so I moved on the next, finally reaching the summit on the third try. It was much closer to the west side of the plateau than the east. I signed the register and took some photos of the good, but less dramatic views compared to Mine Peak. I returned down the eastern slope, then followed a wash all the way out to the plain for an easy stroll back across the open desert. With the second peak of the day bagged, I drove to the Mortero Palms trailhead for a more challenging attempt on Jacumba Mountain.