Explore the most popular mountain biking trails in Mission Trails Regional Park with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Good workout, lots of up and down. We went counterclockwise and hit the stairs going up. The trails are marked with changing names. Hard to get lost, but easy to make a wrong turn. Great view from both peaks.

We wanted to get out of downtown to get a short hike and Cowles Mountain did fit the bill. This trail is less than 1/2 hour away from downtown in the approximately 7,000-acre Mission Trails Regional Park. This is an easy to moderate trail and family friendly. The trail is very open with no cloud cover and is pretty dusty. It is also quit busy. As the park is in the rural San Diego area you never quite feel that you are in the wild. Great 360 views from the top. Add a couple of side hikes to increase the miles and visit the very nice visitor center in the park. If we had more time, we would have driven further out of town to experience the SoCal back country, but is was good for what it is billed. A couple of good park rules that I appreciated. No external music is allowed and no radio controlled devices. This means that someone is not allowed to pull out their drone at the top. This seems to be a very annoying trend even on back country hikes.

trail running
7 days ago

Good mid range trail, but for a beginner trail runner, like myself, it is a doozy, especially for first 2+ miles. Be ready for a workout. My only gripe is the trail is poorly marked later in the loop as there are many junctions and I spent a lot of time guessing wrong. I would go to my AllTrail app but it was having it's issues (or at least my GPS was.)

Went on a weekday, and there were barely any hikers or riders on the trail. Surely challenging the last mile, but well worth it!

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!

hiking
9 days ago

I have hike this trail many times it’s always a pleasure. Very peaceful and every so often you’ll see some wildlife. Mission Trails Park is beautiful.

it was awesome

10 days ago

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

Ok for a walk

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
16 days ago

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

hiking
17 days ago

Favorite hike of all trails in Mission trails, short not too busy and will kick your butt with the steep area.

A lot quieter this way :) and you don’t really lose any distance from the “freeway” up the front

Hay que tener un poco de condición pero esta ruta esta muy buena para un día de entrenamiento, el paisaje es bonito y los senderos bien marcados, en el sendero de big rock hay poca gente, para llegar a cowles empieza a ver mas pero al tomar el sendero a pyles esta solo. Me tomo 3:25 con dos descansos y me marca 12.71 km recorridos.

Did this hike with my son this weekend and we really liked it. The views at the summit were beautiful and we caught some of the air show at Miramar.. that was a plus! Would recommend this trail and would definitely do it again

Views on the peak were nice but nothing too special. First couple of miles we could still see and hear the highway. Last third of the hike was very steep and strenuous. Good exercise.

I loved the first part of this trail. Lots of pretty old oak trees and some fun, easy scrambling opportunities, especially at the peaks. After the peaks, however, the trail turned into an obnoxious dirt service road with steep ups and downs. At times it ran near the freeway and under humming power lines. I would suggest taking a right when the trail forks and looping around to the left. That way you can get the ugly parts out of the way first, and take the steepest parts going uphill (rather than sliding down them on your bum...)

trail running
25 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!

Nice hike with some challenging stretches and good views on top.

love this place, pretty good with a weight vest too.

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

I hike Cowles my often. This is more intense b/c of steep slopes. 23mins up and 18 down. It is very light on ppl. Quiet and good views

trail running
1 month ago

If you’re a sucker for views, love a challenge but don’t have all day to hike or trail run, I highly suggest Kwaay Paay. I went at about 430pm on a Wednesday and passed two people on the way up, three at the summit and three on the way down. So I don’t know what you consider heavily trafficked but in my book, seven people in span of an hour / hour and a half is light... (However can be a much shorter hike if you don’t spend 30 minutes at the Summit taking pics and staring into the sunset.)
And again... the VIEWS!!! I must emphasize how insanely gorgeous and inspiring they are THE ENTIRE TIME. BUT— Whatever you do— don’t turn around before you get to the summit. You can see downtown and the Pacific Ocean!!!

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

Definitely a challenging hike. Especially in 105 degree weather. Really good workout

The trail has potential, but is very crowded and most do not observe trail etiquette (for example: amplified music, leaving trash on the summit, not picking up after dogs).

Great trail and a good workout. Maps available at the trailhead. I took the route clockwise, so I hit North Fortuna first and came down South Fortuna. It was a little hard on the knees going down those steep stairs after the South Fortuna peak. Also towards the end it wasn't totally clear where I was supposed to go, lots of 4-way intersections, but I think as long as you head in the right general direction you can't get lost.

The "Getting There" is inaccurate - you shouldn't go to Equestrian Circle for this trail head. But if you click on the "Directions" it leads you in the right place. Just type in 11441 Clairemont Mesa Blvd to your GPS.

hiking
1 month ago

Stars only for easy hike with good payoff with a nice view of San Diego, otherwise very crowded with people with horrible trail etiquette. Speakers blasting music, trash not packed out, people not staying on trail and ruining surrounding brush.

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