trail running

dogs on leash


nature trips



wild flowers


mountain biking

kid friendly

Mission Trails is an open space preserve located a short 8 miles outside of downtown San Diego. The park is the one of largest urban parks in the United States with over 7,000 acres of open space. With its 60+ miles of hiking trails and mountain bike trails, rock climbing opportunities, camping areas such as Kumeyaay Lake Campground, and Lake Murray for boating, this park truly has something for everyone. The park can be accessed from Father Junipero Serra Trail off of Mission Gorge Road. Visitors should be sure to check out the state-of-the-art visitor and interpretive center prior to heading into the park. The park has trails for every level of ability whether you are walking, running, hiking, or mountain biking. The visitor center loop trail is a great option for families. For more experienced hikers looking for a challenging adventure, sign up for the 5 peak challenge, which climbs all 5 peaks in the park, Cowles Mountain (the highest point in San Diego), Pyles Peak, Kwaay Paay Peak, South Fortuna, and North Fortuna. Make sure to take a selfie at each of the 5 peaks and once you are done and then to submit your challenge so it can be reviewed by a park ranger. Once approved, you can stop by the visitor center to pick up your official certificate! The park is home to plenty of wildlife - excellent for birdwatchers. This is a great place to escape from the urban life into nature without having to drive very far.

AMPLIFIED MUSIC IS NOT ALLOWED. Please respect your fellow hikers. This is not your personal gym. Nobody wants to hear your music. Just use headphones and we’ll all get along great :)

2 days ago

Great view. Nice extra after finishing cowels

It was a short inclining trek to the top. Heavily populated with hikers, dogs, and trail runners of all experience. Despite getting there around 8am on a weekday, the trail was still quite crowded. Terrain was sandy, rocky, with lots of loose gravel. View was nice.

Big rock trail is awesome! lots of greenery and really feels like you are in the thick of it. once you hit the fire road to Cowles it's definitely an uphill battle. loose gravel makes it intimidating for the descent but overall a good hike round trip. Plenty of street parking and in a safe neighborhood.

Love this hike, never crowded, and although it's short it's pretty steep in a couple spots making it a challenge if you run it.

Nice, quick hike!

This was a nice hike. It ended up being harder than I expected due to the steep incline that does not let up. Great views and not to busy.

Great workout and great views!

It is true what other reviews have stated about this hike. You get the perfect combination of beautiful scenery, not too technical paths, and incline grades that are gradual and very bearable.

The only real negatives are the hard to find parking and some dog poop scattrered through out the trail (a knock on some of the dog owners). Despite this though I will be a regular here moving forward.

7 days ago

Once you pass the traffic jam on Cowles Mountain, the trails is nice and peaceful. Great view from the peak.

Definitely the worst hike of the 5 peak challenge. Kwaay Paay is deceptively short, making you think it's going to just be a quick jaunt. Once you get into the thick of it, however, you realize you are in a straight uphill battle. The path is very steep with a load of loose rocks that threaten to send you careering back to the bottom. You spend most of the time staring at the ground instead of at the stellar views around you.
It's not a terrible hike, it just needs to get rid of those rocks.

7 days ago

Too crowded with lots of folks blasting music. Not my idea of a good hike.

Ok trail

Good solid hike with a lot of attractive views. This is the tallest peak in San Diego and definitely the most trafficked. There's always a ton of people out here, so not the best if you enjoy hiking as a way to be alone with your thoughts.

8 days ago

Nice hike. Not too difficult. If you have a day and time you decide to go regularly people become familiar and are friendly. You get an elderly (i’m assuming) recovering alcoholic flip drivers off if parking is too full... but that is the medicated nation we live in. You take the good with the basic :)

we completed this trail in 2017. highly recommend long pants abd hiking poles. lots of rattlesnakes.

Great hike. When parking on Golfview make sure to turn your wheels towards the curb, the ticket nazis are present there.

Been hiking here on and off for 20 years. Perfect workout, great hike and gorgeous view of San Diego.

Great morning hike. Really busy even on a Monday morning. 2 hour trip up & down at a slow pace

15 days ago

I’ve hiked Cowles dozens of times. Great hike. Moderate level of difficulty, not just a stroll.

This hike is super popular so the trail is often crowded.

Water and bathrooms at the bottom of the mountain.

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