Explore 5 peaks challenge - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

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hiking
2 days ago

hiking
2 days ago

Trail is EXTREMELY crowded on the weekend (even at 7 AM).
Overlooks urban sprawl.
Peak is dominated by an ugly transmission tower.
I think one star is generous.

Cowles is heavily trafficked and lots of dust in the air. almost nobody after connect with Pyles

This is a pretty quick hike but it can be steep in spots which is great for me since I'm an experienced hiker. The view from the top is amazing.

It was well kept and not highly trafficked.

Been hiking Cowles since 1986

first time hiking this trail. its relatively a short hike but has steep inclines towards the summit. easy to find parking and the trail is dog friendly. not a lot of shade and the summit can get a little crowded but overall great views at the top! not very crowded either. i ran into maybe 30 people the whole time on a saturday morning.

Went at night, the hike had awesome views of San Diego, including downtown. The trail was wide, in most parts with lots of switchbacks and fun, rocky terrain. Great hike overall!

Great Hike! Lots of other hikers! Some parts are a little tough and steep, but rewarding view at top make it worth the pain. Not a lot shade, cover up or have sun screen.

If you are new to San Diego, it's a great way to get the lay of the land. Expect crowds and in our case, some unusual people hiking with Bluetooth speakers playing rap music for all to hear. Other than that, great views ranging from the ocean, downtown, East County, Mexico, San Jacinto Mountain near Palm Springs and even the San Bernardino mountains way off in the distance. Enjoy!

hiking
12 days ago

My favorite part about this hike is at the top it has a map telling you what landmarks are in each direction and you can see Mexico!

Beautiful hike and breath taking views at the top! Plus, a great workout.

Pretty good workout!

Beautiful views going up! Very crowded, but everyone is very nice and polite! :) There are a few people that forget their dog-potty bags sadly.
The views and trails are worth the crowds, a must do trail!

Super fun! I lived it

Bland trail with constant freeway noise (70% of trip). Nice views at top.

hiking
22 days ago

Proper challenge for beginners :)

We wanted to get out of downtown to get a short hike and Cowles Mountain did fit the bill. This trail is less than 1/2 hour away from downtown in the approximately 7,000-acre Mission Trails Regional Park. This is an easy to moderate trail and family friendly. The trail is very open with no cloud cover and is pretty dusty. It is also quit busy. As the park is in the rural San Diego area you never quite feel that you are in the wild. Great 360 views from the top. Add a couple of side hikes to increase the miles and visit the very nice visitor center in the park. If we had more time, we would have driven further out of town to experience the SoCal back country, but is was good for what it is billed. A couple of good park rules that I appreciated. No external music is allowed and no radio controlled devices. This means that someone is not allowed to pull out their drone at the top. This seems to be a very annoying trend even on back country hikes.

beautiful and clean trail

I will forever have a special place in my heart for this mountain. In April of 2018 I started my new journey to lose weight. I am so proud to say by July 2018 I had lost 40lbs. I hiked and still hike Cowles 2-3 time a week and that was it. This hike is great for beginners and experienced hikers. Don’t give up in the hard areas you can do it! The view is worth it. I like to cut from the front trail to the back trail at the top for a nice steep incline at the top. Have fun!

Go early before the crowds

it was awesome

hiking
1 month ago

I have done all the mission trails. Ok for an afternoon or morning walk

Ok for a walk

Great trail for any age group and fur babies. I'm def not in shape and was fine. Rocky ground so my hiking boots helped immensely! Hiked Saturday around 530 pm and headed down as the sun was setting, perfect weather and time. Less ppl then the last time I went on a Sunday.

hiking
1 month ago

Uneventful and busy. If you are new to hiking its good though.

hiking
1 month ago

Favorite hike of all trails in Mission trails, short not too busy and will kick your butt with the steep area.

A lot quieter this way :) and you don’t really lose any distance from the “freeway” up the front

Hay que tener un poco de condición pero esta ruta esta muy buena para un día de entrenamiento, el paisaje es bonito y los senderos bien marcados, en el sendero de big rock hay poca gente, para llegar a cowles empieza a ver mas pero al tomar el sendero a pyles esta solo. Me tomo 3:25 con dos descansos y me marca 12.71 km recorridos.

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