Explore San Diego Hikes - 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
8 hours ago

Hike was fun and enjoyable. Views of large rocky hills go on for miles on all sides. Signage was good. Went on a sunday afternoon so it was decently crowded but not too bad - still quiet. A lot of turns keep you winding around the hills. Watch your step - almost stepped on a rattlesnake out bathing himself :)

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!

Beautiful but has a demoralizing s-curve shape where you can see where you’ve been/have to go. They could have cut a trail up to the approach ridge but instead you add 2 miles or more of steep, rather unpleasant hiking. We discovered that you can hike up from the neighborhood below and start the hike at the water tower, which makes it 5 star. Here is a link to the starting point: Dropped Pin
https://goo.gl/maps/qGyuzPrhbLs

14OCT2018- 65 to 68 degree(F) Good hike. A lot of view going up and down.. too cloudy when we got at the top barely see any scenic view.

it was awesome

3 days ago

I have hiked this trail a few times. It is so close to where many of us live and very accessible.

Did this hike in October with fall temperatures. The rating of hard I believe depends on what time of year you go and what the temperature outside is. For us we started at around 9 am and the weather was perfect. On our way back around noon it was definitely hotter and more strenuous. Bring lots of water and snacks. Very well maintained hike! The rock requires you to make a somewhat questionable jump from one rock to another. Once you do it it’s not so bad. You have to lower yourself with your arms and get your footing on the potato chip rock. To get down I slid down the side of the rock. Overall great hike!

This was a great hike.
Only advice is....be in good cardio shape for this hike, or it will kick your butt!

Awesome hike

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
9 days ago

Great Hike! Walked up and ran back down. Great to see a Ranger on the trail. Great views once you reach the top! definitely coming back!

hiking
9 days ago

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

trail running
10 days ago

The good- This IS a great trail to hike and especially trail run due to a relatively moderate incline and flat stretches, and a nice 1/2 mile cool down at the end. The views are wonderful in all directions, with a wonderful spotting scope, with a mountain-identifier pointer, completed in 2017 by an Eagle Scout. The view west as you gain the mid mountain saddle is as good as it gets in central SD county; pause and enjoy because you still have half the vertical elevation ahead of you to reach the top.
The not so good- this hike has become so discovered, as so many trails have in the last decade. The long approach stinks like dog beach in OB Pee and poop from too many people not being vigilant about dog waste. I have and love my trail running dog, but c’mon people!
Verdict- go off hours, and preferably when it’s cloudy; there’s little shade,,, still beautiful and accessible.

Great hike with beautiful views!!!

Excellent choice for beginners, be prepared with a lot of water, crowded in the morning

Go early to beat the crowds and heat. Took about an hour to reach the top. Pretty views, but was hoping for those rolling clouds.

trail running
17 days 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!

hiking
19 days ago

Fun trail with great views throughout. Especially on the eastern portion of the loop!

Great avenue for trail runners and hikers itching for a workout with a sip of Lactic Acid (moderate trail not Hard). In the summer of course it will feel hard (little to no shade). I loved the inclines, the switch backs are fun as they have cleverly constructed steps from surrounding rocks (beautifully done), a trail that keeps you guessing what’s next, and the routs are easy to navigate.
Nice rest areas, great scenic views, and surprisingly they have conveniently set out several bathroom areas. No matter if a beginner or avid hardcore runner you can find it here. If only looking for a relaxing picnic with friends and family they have a nice lake, fishing, boats, lots of grass and trees. While they “rest and eat” come with me and we will run up to eat some potato chips @2100ft. (Start from the Lake don’t cheat, take plenty of water, and enjoy Poway!)

Really fun, fairly easy going hike. Just super crowded, otherwise would be a 5 star hike

This is a great hike with amazing views along the way. The thrill is when you get to the top and see the potato chip. As a bit of advice, do this one early to stay out of the heat but most importantly to be the crowds. We started at 8:00 from the parking lot and we went got to the top there was only a handful of people there. Within 1/2 hours there were at least 100 people and the lineups were getting longer and longer.

I’m giving this 4 stars only because it was soooo crowded when I went. So my advice to you, don’t go during the weekend!! There was literally a long line to take a picture on the damn potato chip rock. And people take foreverrrrrr since there trying to get that perfect Instagram worthy pic, or their new tinder profile pic. Who knows, i didn’t stand in it. Overall the hike is great, def bring plenty of water if your going during the summer. Great workout, there is plenty of shady spots if you get too tired and need to rest.

Love this hike!
Good exercise. Great View. Close to home.

Beautiful views the whole way up. Park your car at lake Poway. $10 parking fee on the weekend. They open at 6:00. I started at 6:30 and it was already pretty busy. The trail is very well maintained and marked. Moderate hike.

hiking
1 month ago

I love this trail for training purposes. It is a very busy trail. The views at top are incredible. I’ve done this many times and will do many times more.

Great hike in August.

Great! Food and gallon of water very important. Beautiful view.

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