Explore San Diego / Cowles - 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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Easy practically flat trail. Beware lots of bike riders, some are nice enough to let you know they are coming close. Busy on the weekends. Nice waterfall at the end of the trail to refresh yourself in.

Started at the East Staging area and walked along the perimeter trail/road (this part is daunting because of the up and down part of the hills). When you get to the stairs that go up the mountain, it is single track trail again with some shade and a great view up to the top. Totally worth the view!!! In my opinion, better view here than Cowles Mtn. On the way down Fortuna Saddle Trail it is slippery in the dirt/gravel road but the Oak Canyon Trail is quite nice although short. DEFINITELY bring more WATER than you think! I have done this 2x and ran out of water both times.

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!

hiking
1 day ago

A good workout. Very nice views.

it was great hike.

Nice hike with some challenging sections. The six mile loop is a combination of a bunch of different paths so I recommend running this app during your hike. You can’t just zone out and walk/run the whole thing. When you come out of the parking lot, there is a cool bridge over a canyon. You turn left once across the bridge to get to The Fortuna loop. If you want to go counterclockwise, the path off to the right is roughly a hundred yards after turning left from the bridge. If you turn right from the bridge, there are some very steep repeated climbs for a warm up.

I did it counterclockwise and enjoying hustling up the long run of steps. I definitely preferred going up those versus down. It took me just over 90 minutes to complete. There are spectacular views from both peaks. I was fine starting at 8am on a weekday in mid-November with a 12-16oz bottle of water. I passed maybe five people going in my direction and about the same going the other way.

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

hiking
6 days ago

Short, easy and, with a beautiful points to relax.

hiking
6 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.

Fun hike for any ages.

ok hike not much to see. Got some exercise in. I want to recant this "not much to see" after reading some history and the preservation effort of the landscape and original plants of San Diego it was a pretty cool hike ... ....

A really nice, easy urban-ish walk. Takes you through some of San Diego’s old neighborhoods and canyons. Ends with a stroll through Balboa Park. Nice for a hot Santa Ana day with plenty of availability for shade depending on what side of the street you choose to walk on!

Beautiful trail with some good shade.

mountain biking
7 days ago

Great Trail if you want to test your climbing skills on your MTB. It’s a Challenge!!! Some pretty cool downhill trail options at the Top.

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.

Excellent

It was well kept and not highly trafficked.

Been hiking Cowles since 1986

Great hike! Some hills that were a great workout and otherwise a pleasant walk!

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!

Fantastic views. Moderately challenging depending on the level of sun and heat you're encountering. Bring more water than you need and do the hike clockwise so that the heavy incline (on the S.Fortuna side), is actually a decline.

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.

I wouldn't reccomend the north trail for mt biking unless you like hike !bike

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
16 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!

great when it isnt crowded!

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

Great easy walk!

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