Explore san diego trails - 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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fun trail run, gets pretty steep on the climb up at a couple points but will definitely go back

fun and challenging ascent. gets really hot with minimal shade so pack plenty of water

Awesome trail, friendly people along the way just enough incline to get a good workout

Did on a hot day. Bring a lot of water! worth it for the fun potato chip rock pictures!

Did this hike yesterday. Great challenge. Beautiful views. Had a blast!

This hike makes you work for it. One hour up & 30 minutes down. I started before the sun and there were plenty of other friendly folks on the trail.

A challenging hike with beautiful views!!! The potato chip rock at the peak was indeed very instagram worthy..

Great trail for training. l less crowded than the main Trail.

a nice, easy hike. good for a trail run, for sure and very pretty.

Great workout

Coming down is harder than getting to the top. Recommend completing north, saddle and south in one shot.

You hike up Cowls Mountains and off to the side at the top you proceed to Pyles. Take plenty of water. Get there early because parking can be limited and turn wheels to curb. It took 2 hours and 23 minutes to do both hikes.

DEFINITELY read these reviews before taking this hike!!!! It is worth it once you get to the top but getting there can be challenging especially in July when I went!!! Bring lots of water, hat, shades, and wear light clothing. Enjoy the workout!!!!

Loved this trail when I hiked it the first time. Unfortunately, I went at 7am and the trail was closed due to excessive heat. :(

This is an amazing hike but NOT FOR THE SUMMER! I went with a group of 6 including myself and we left way too late. Should note it was the end of July at 10am. Moderate hike but the sun is what killed us. Legit almost thought I was going to pass out. If you go during the summer don't bring your dog, and bring a crap ton of water!

Long but easy, good for a run

Awesome! Worth it when you get to the top

Some very modest hills, but otherwise a flat walk (or run) up Penesquitos Canyon. A small waterfall at the mid point provides some scrambling opportunities as well as a place to cool your feet. A fairly easy hike, but little to no breeze in the canyon, so not a good option on hot days.

Extremely hot, and no shade at all. Wait for half an hour for the potato-chip photo. Good workout but too hot.

Great hike but it’s rated hard for a reason. I am an avid hiker and it was challenging. If you are looking for a less strenuous hike, start in Ramona. On a positive note, it is BEAUTIFUL & a great workout.

The majority of the trail was pretty tame, though it got steep towards the end. Lots of people on the trail at 8 am on a Saturday. Nice views of the city at the top. The trail is well maintained and easy to follow. It starts by a city park with bathrooms, so that's a bonus!

Very nice hike. Trail is well maintained and not too difficult. We started at about 6:15 am and it was still too crowded for my liking, but the scenery is beautiful and it is a good work out. If you go beyond the Potato Chip rock there are great boulders to relax on and enjoy some solitude!

Love this trail

Awesome trial! My husband & I never hiked & decided let’s try it. Wow did it kick our butts. We also started at 1300 on a 100 degree day (don’t do that). It took us 3hours round trip. Beautiful views. Definitely wish it had more signs on how far to go. We brought 2-40oz hydroflasks, & a gallon of water + don’t forget some protein or PB&J’s! Overall amazing!

Great for a morning workout and enjoying the views.

we took the north trail on the way up and came down the South, highly recommend taking the South trail. Happy Trails

It was one of the hottest forecast days of the year and we got off to a bit of a late start (7:30 ish) - we realized this when, on our way up, we noted lots of hikers already on their way down. What ever you do BRING LOTS OF WATER. Lots means a couple liters NOT one small bottle of Crystal Geyser! I can not tell you how many people we passed that were on their way to heat stroke. Shared our extra water with a few who were out far from the trail head! Bring extra water! (always a good idea anyway)
It's a well marked path, starting with a dirt road for the first mile or so, then up to singletrack through and up the rocks, with rock steps on some of the rockier sections. There is shade to be found. We were early enough that some of the brush provided a great place to just get out of the sun for a moment or two when catching your breath. Although it's a popular hike, we never felt crowded on the trail and never hit any traffic jams - perhaps because of the area high heat warnings. But there were a reasonable amount of people there. It's a nice UP and back Down hike, meaning it's easier to push yourself a bit harder at first knowing that it will be easier going down. The first mile or so had several porta potties and trash bins along the route and the trail was really clean. Not sure if it's like this all the time but perhaps they stepped it up for the July 4 weekend crowds. Really great local hike with easy parking, beautiful views away from the suburban sprawl and cool shaded grassy spots to crash in when you get back down to your car! Would recommend and would definitely do again.

The trail begins at the back of the parking lot. It is very well maintained and I saw a few dedicated men picking up trash on the trail and at the top. The trail starts to get harder the last two miles. That is where the rock steps begin; however, it's not as difficult as other hikes that I have been on. I was at the gate at 6:00 am when it opened on a weekday and I had the rock to myself for a while at the top. I saw lots of people coming up the trail as I descended. The views are very scenic going up and at the top.

Definitely a difficult hike, especially on a hot day. (It got up to 105 when I went). Be sure to bring lots of water as there is little shade, but the view at the top is worth the climb and the hike back down is pretty easy. Just make sure from the lake Powell parking lot you take the trail to your right and not your left or you will add on an extra mile each way like I did on my hike up by accident.

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