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

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!

Great hike with an awesome waterfall to play around or near. Fun little "pool" area at the base of the falls to cool down in. Our dog loved it too. If u do bring your dog go early because of the heat....and plenty of water for you and your pooch. Hike back wasn't too bad, the last .5 mile back was probably the hardest. Only saw one snake..

not anything like the sierras but amazing for down here. I wouldn't rate this moderate, it should be rated easy. although the incline is pretty significant in the first 2.5 miles, taking your time upon ascending will prevent you from getting overly tired.

I highly recommend this hike but read the cautions below.
My fiancé and I went in April and had an amazing time. We are a young and fairly active couple and this trail was not extremely difficult but I can see how it’s difficult for others. I recommend to head out first thing in the morning as the afternoon sun is VERY hot and with the dry heat, it becomes unbearable. There’s barely no shade on the trail so when that sun is blazing, you’re completely exposed to the sun and heat. Come prepared with plenty of water and high energy food. We brought eight bottles of water each and went through 6 easily. The trail is a 1 person wide dirt trail with no barriers and minimal markers. I’m scared of heights and the trail made me uncomfortable at times when it was steep and if I fell I felt like it would be to my death of tumbling down the rocky side with minimal to no shrubs to stop my fall. Other areas of the trail were fine. As we got closer to the waterfalls, there was more shade and trees but larger rocks we had to climb over. We got to a point that we weren’t sure if we were on the right track as there wasn’t a distinct trail to follow nor markers, but then we would randomly find a ribbon on a branch.
At the end of the trail are the waterfalls, they are awesome. I would recommend to bring a swimsuit and a towel, freezing water but a great way to cool off. To get to the top waterfall you have to climb the rocks which are smooth and steep and only have a rope to help you up. Bring good gripping shoes and gloves (if you’re hands are on the sensitive side).
CAUTION!!!
So this trail is completely do able, but be SAFE. On our way we ran into a group in which one of the guys broke his leg and since there’s no signal, they had to carry him back to the car (in which there is still no signal in the parking lot and only signal after an hour drive back towards the highway). If you have a radio, I would recommend to bring a radio with you so you can call for help incase. The man broke his leg going down the old trail in which the rope was removed to prevent people from going down, sever accidents will entail if you try this. Do not rush down the ropes at the waterfall, I saw someone loose balance and almost flew into the tree and stones and would’ve broken his back or head if it wasn’t for his friend saving him from falling to his death. Like I said, be safe, go prepared, don’t be stupid, and you’ll survive without any issues.

This is a great little day hangout. The falls are so beautiful and you can hear and see them the moment you arrive. There’s an opportunity to “hike” around the falls. Very short, but worth the stroll. Multiple trails, including PCT, if you’re looking for something more lengthy/difficult. Very touristy, lots of people, but a must see!

Hiking boots, 3 liters of water, hat, and snacks are a good idea. You should be prepared doing this hike. It's very hot, lack of shade, loose trail, unstable ground. This is not a place for kids or dogs. The ground is 110 degrees so this could kill your pup. We had to carry a dog off the mountain before. Lots of dogs die hiking in the heat.
This is one of my favorite hikes. The new trail is as a lot easier, but I prefer the original route with the ropes. There is a total of 5 ropes to help you up and down the steep ledges. I bring gloves because it is rough on my hands.

Beautiful views. Make sure to purchase a permit. One permit for 5 people. Bring plenty of water and food. Don't forget your hat and sunscreen lotion because there are no shades. It was easy on the way down to the water fall. Yet, on the way back was a challenging. There was a little snake in the water. Be careful. I was there last week, July 1st.

I am just starting to hike and agree it is a moderate hike. Only downside was the heat, can get really hot so make sure you take lots of water and are hydrated before. On our way down to waterfall sun was out so I was pretty drained getting there, but on our way back up sun wasn't as strong and I was able to make it up easily. Took us a little under 2 hours both ways. Good hike overall.

March 26th 2018 the waterfalls were flowing and gorgeous everything green and birds are chirping

If one must do cowles, I definitely suggest this route. It is much less crowded than the front way and there is tons of shade. Doable for children as young as 5.

Definitely moderate even though the signs are rated difficult. Went early to beat the sun. Not too busy of a trail although there were some working cars driving up and down. Very steep part towards the summit for about .5 miles. Make sure you wear proper shoes!

Fire look-out was unoccupied but the deck was open. The views where oddly good given the usual summer haze.

Didn’t get to the falls (couldn’t get a $10 permit) but nice hike nonetheless

Love this hike! Good amount of parking, scenic mountains on the way down and decent work out on the way back. Wear a bathing suit and pack a lunch and hang near the water for a bit. I swam before hiking back to help beat the heat. There is zero shade besides down by the water so be smart. I went last week and there really was just a trickle vs a waterfall but definitely still worth the hike. Oh and get your permit - they checked mine at the tent before entering and then again after I had already done ~2 miles.

I'm a newbie when it comes to hiking but this is my favorite trail so far. We took the old way to the waterfalls because we thought there would be ropes going down the hill but I guess they took most of the ropes off. We were still able to navigate it though. I really navigating through the rocks and streams but you could tell that few people had gone through the old trail. on the way back we took the newer trail which seemed safer but not as fun. Bring lots of water just in case. it can get hot really fast.

Great hike, do not do this hike on a hot day.

Great hike! Make sure to bring lots of water. Definitely use the ropes to climb up to the next waterfall. You will be glad you did!

This was my first time all the way to the ranger station, there are not words to describe it (You have to see it) in my first hike to Saddle Junction (over 18 years ago) I have my 4 years old son in my shoulders round trip, it was late and my wife didn’t want to keep going, this’s time I took my son (23 years already) and we really enjoy the trip, it was somehow emotional, because my son’s mother divorce me (without a reason) and she was missing in the trip. Check my pictures but better yet DO IT, you wouldn’t regret.

Warning: several hikers have died of heatstroke here. There's almost no shade. it gets hot.

Not many bugs. That's about as far as it goes for good points. This unremitting slog down to an unremarkable falls, followed by an even less remarkable slog back up the exact same trail you just walked down, is free of agreeable views, shade, or, really, any reason to set foot on it. I don't know who built it, and I really don't know why, but I'd like my afternoon back please. Negative 1.21 Gigastars.

Skip It.

Long drive, very nice hike. The forest service has cut a new trail that delivers you to middle sister. Please use this and not the old "trail". I.e. don't cross the pink line across the edge of trail. Those random routes straight down the slope have caused a scar that will take a decade or more to recover IF it remains unused and people don't cause more erosion. When on the new trail, as you get near the falls/stream bed the trail becomes difficult to follow. Look for pink ribbons tied on shrubs that indicate trail. I climbed to middle fall (rope is there but not necessary). Good swimming in that one. Stream is still moving but just barely above a dribble really.

Please at least pack out everything you bring in. If you can pick up something and leave it cleaner than you found it! I found a pile of trash hidden behind a tree. Packed them out too:)

Beautiful hike!! But be aware that you need a permit. They have a tent pitched at the trailhead and wont let you go past without one. The way down was easy, but the way back up was tougher. Its not steep, but if its hot the granite makes it extremely hot and there is no shade. Bring a gallon per person, youll definitely need it. The water was trickling today, but there was a decent amount in the pool. It looked too stagnant to swim in, but people were in there anyway. Id definitely do it again, or try the two trails that branch from the north and south.

Loved this hike. Seems easier than Cedar Creek. The water level was low and we didn’t climb to the top falls, but it was beautiful!

More enjoyable, more strenuous approach to Cowles than the "main way."

Heavy trafficked trail and dog friendly. First part of the trail goes behind home houses, then eventually merges to the main trail where you will see many other hikers. The hike up is a steady incline with a few steeper parts. once you get to the top, you get a panoramic view of San Diego. Be careful on the way down. If you are not wearing shoes with enough traction you may slip at some parts. Overall, it's a good hike to go with kids and dogs.

The last part of the trail really difficult. I recommend it just for Strong Guys;)

hiking
2 months ago

Getting to the waterfall was a piece of cake, but coming back was draining. The heat didn’t help matters either. Make sure you bring LOTS of water!!! The waterfall had trickling water but the pool was full. The sight was worth the hike. I would definitely come back. Overall, it was a great hike!

Went early at 7am. The hiking in/out was great! There was no creek to cross and the waterfall didn't have a lot of water but it's still very pretty! Cool weather today, out by 10:30 in the morning. Perfect day for a hike.

This is our fav hike in San Diego county. We’ve done it a few times. We brought our mini-husky to this hike last time, and she didn’t have any trouble with it. We always climb to the top of the third sister because the view from there is spectacular. There were ropes in parts of the trail, but the ropes were missing last time we were there. The trail is doable without the ropes, but it does make it easier. Overall, this hike is great for any level of experience in hiking.

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