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Cowles is a convenient, quick hike that unfortunately is a victim of its popularity. The trail itself is great, maintained well with challenging sections and plenty of areas to catch your breath. But Cowles can be extremely busy, and SO MANY hiking it have zero trail manners, which is a huge bummer. Parking can also be a chore if you arrive during busy times.

BUT, the views are great once you get to the top. Full view of every bit of San Diego and beyond. Definitely worth it.

Great for almost everyone (except if you have bad knees...)

Great view!

can't beat the view!!!

Very steep in parts and lots of loose rocks and gravel underfoot so be careful. Views from the top are fabulous

Great up hill hike... amazing views

Easy and short trail with nice views at the top.

hiking
18 days ago

Early in the morning there's alot of wildlife.

trail running
18 days ago

FYI need to purchase day pass. They offer annual passes but you must purchase those in advance.

Great hike but very hot at 9am. Felt sorry for the kids and dogs. Great workout!

One of my favorite hikes! Great workout and views.

hiking
26 days ago

My first West Coast hike and I enjoyed it. The day was of course hot and dry which is much different than what I'm used to in the Northeast but with enough water certainly enjoyable. The view was fantastic all the way up. Wasn't too busy late morning on a weekday. Path is dusty and firm packed but no real traction issues. Just over an hour up and back. A good way to start my vacation.

Crowded but enjoyed it

on Cowles Mountain Trail

hiking
27 days ago

I have completed Cowles Mountain a couples time and, for a person that doesn't hike, it is a moderate hike. I don't mind the crowds that much. It is a very fun hike that usually takes me about 2 hours up and down.

Great hike, good amount of switchbacks but plenty of level ground to catch your breath. Would definitely rate this hike more on the easier side. Really enjoy the view once you get to the top! Would have given it 5 stars but the trail is very busy at all times of the day and the people on the trail tend to keep to themselves without a smile or "hello". We can't control the popularity of the trail, but a little smile or "hello" goes a long way to making a trail more enjoyable.

Enjoyable views with a good workout on the way up.

The views were beautiful, and I went mid week when there wasn't anyone else on the trail. It was however very hot, and there is no shade along the trail. Be ready to be climbing a lot, and not feeling like there's much play-off. It was fine for the experience, but I wouldn't go again.

Nice hike and most of it is fairly easy. It is pretty steep up and down during the loop portion. The hike is mostly sunny and the only shade is near the trail head. There are many trails out there and they are not labeled well, so check the app occasionally if you are recording. This area requires a land pass for usage that you can buy online for about $4. I would hike this again and bring the kids.

hiking
1 month ago

Great hike, did the round trip in about 1hr 45min. Definitely bring some water with you, it was heating up at about 11am when I was on my way back and I was glad I was able to drink some water while I was at the top. Amazing views from the top, even saw a Coast Guard helicopter flying around below me.

Keep your eyes on the trail, I was distracted by the view and came within a couple feet of a rattlesnake crossing the path, I just backed away slowly and gave him the right of way.

Very treacherous and rocky. Cowels wasn’t to bad but we wanted to complete the 5 Peak Challenge so we hit Pyles Peak next. Round trip when done 9.3 miles, 89 floors and 26,000+ steps. My hardest hike by far.

Excellent, challenging with a good, somewhat flat break and wonderful views from the top

Excellent!

This was my first "hike" in San Diego. Nice incline. Fairly congested up and down. Great views throughout.

This is a nice meandering trail with the waterfall as your reward before turning back to make the uphill climb. Definitely suggest going early if you prefer quiet trails unbothered by “hikers” playing loud music as you pass them.

What a great trail! I'm a beginner and found this to me beautiful, scenic and doable for children and adults. Good rocks for footing, and hardly any slipping areas. But in drier season could be more risk of slips. But that may be with any trail.

Can't wait to bring my 10 and 16 year old!

Beautiful scenery and trail is very clear - most climbing up steps though and is very crowded

hiking
1 month ago

great for Sunrise!!

This trail is probably the most popular and busiest trails in San Diego. It's an easy and quick hike. It's definitely more fun when you run all the way down, but this can add some pressure on your knees and ankles so be extremely careful. It provides a great workout and there's ample space at the top to stop for a drink or a quick snack just to enjoy the scenery. You will find yourself having to go around or letting people pass, making it less enjoyable.

This is one of my favorite trails. I love that it’s away from the city, and you actually get to experience some beautiful nature and wildlife. (I come from the Sierra Nevadas, so I need nature.) I have seen many different lizards, frogs, birds, and a few different snakes...even picked up a Rosy Boa. (They are very docile snakes, even in the wild.)
The trail is long enough that it makes you feel accomplished. It’s beautiful the whole way through. The trail changes scenery as you walk. It starts out being open, then you walk through trees and eventually walk along a creek. Then you walk along side a cliff that over looks a canyon. Then you climb a hill and once at the top you have some nice views. A lot of the walk back down is gorgeous with the views. The trail goes in a loop, so you end up walking back in the middle of the trail you came up on.

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