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

Octa Map
VIEW FULL MAP

Great trail to walk with your kids.

Beautiful wilderness area. Lightly trafficked. Takes between 4-5 hours to complete. Bring 6-8 liters of water and 2,000-3,000 calories.if summiting in winter bring emergency blankets in case you need to bivy at the top.

Morning and daytime (during cooler weather) hikes here can be extremely busy! I go at night (bring head gear or hand flashlight). When using a flashlight at night please be mindful of either sticking your beam on the trail or just turn it off until they pass (some hikers prefer using the natural moonlight). Don't shine it in their eyes! It's rude and unsafe. Once at the summit, incredible views!

it was great hike.

We did an 6am morning hike and it was perfect not too many people going up or coming down.

hiking
7 days ago

hiking
8 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.

Been hiking Cowles since 1986

Where can you park besides the lake area? Thanks.

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!

The trail head said prohibited entry?

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
18 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!

If you a serious hiker - don't waste your time.
This is a trail in the backyard of some mountain houses, you will hear people in their backyards all along. The views are Ok, and it is as short as it is not challenging.

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!

Beautiful easy trail.

walking
1 month ago

M

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.

hiking
1 month ago

very easy, but enjoyable hike. beautiful cactus.

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!

Great easy hike. Can be used for easy hiking, running or just an easy walk with your family overlooking the beautiful mountains and the lake.

it was awesome

So someone’s review said to start at the trailhead where the parking is and my friend and I think they are completely wrong. If you start from the dirt road entrance which is off of Taqhuitz rd I believe that is uphill. You finish the trail at the parking lot and if you follow the road a little up and to the right you find restrooms and picnic benches. When you go back down there is only a small part that is up hill but then the rest is downhill. We both hiked with our babies in baby carriers. Trust me when I say start from the first road.

The hike itself of course is beautiful because you are going through a beautiful forest and beautiful sights as you go higher and higher. However The end isn’t as rewarding as Taqhuitz peak. When Taqhuitz peak opens again from Southridge, I would suggest trying that one. It is a moderate to hard hike due to the switchbacks but it is very beautiful and so worth it when you get to the ranger tower.

I definitely suggest starting from the bottom. When I did the trail I only knew of starting at the trailhead . My friends and I hiked through and realized there was parking on the street to start from the opposite side. Hiking back was mostly uphill and we would have preferred to do it the other way around. To hike uphill first (out) and comeback (back) downhill , park on the street end of the trail not the trailhead end of the trail.

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.

Nice views. Dogs liked it too

trail running
1 month ago

Used to run this regularly in college, did again while visiting friends due to proximity. Perpetually busy, worn out trail. Much better options out there!

Load More