For a limited time only, save 30% on a year of AllTrails Pro!
Get Started
Help keep our trails and parks open during COVID-19 by committing to social distancing. Some trails or park services may be closed this weekend so check with local authorities before heading out.
Learn more

Cowles Mountain from Big Rock Trail is a 4.5 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Santee, California that offers the chance to see wildlife and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from October until June. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Length 4.5 mi Elevation gain 1,204 ft Route type Out & Back

Dogs on leash

Kid friendly

Hiking

Mountain biking

Nature trips

Walking

Bird watching

Running

Views

Wildlife

Rocky

Scramble

Description
Waypoints (0)

Please note that there have been closures reported for this trail. Please check in advance before hiking.

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (1115)
Photos (1020)
Recordings (1102)
Completed (2750)
Gary Jenkins
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 9, 2020
Hiking

I enjoy this trail with the family. The service road is now open again. The mornings on the weekend aren't too crowded

Chris Atkinson
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 9, 2020
Hiking

Great hike to push yourself

View Chris's Recording
mark Brudney
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 8, 2020
Hiking

Great exercise!

View mark's Recording
Michael Kuzma
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 2, 2020
Hiking

Made it as far as the service road and turned around because the wife was too hot. Thought we would try to take the offshoot trail to Pyles Peak (as shown on the map and pictured) to avoid the service road closure near the Cowles peak, but it was hardly a trail at all. Too overgrown to attempt.

View Michael's Recording
Javier Salazar
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarJuly 31, 2020
Running

Nice trail. Service road trail is close at the top of the trail.

View Javier's Recording
Brad K.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 26, 2020
Hiking

This is a great hike. Well maintained, clearly marked trails with varying degrees of incline. Located near 4 other peaks in Mission Trails, Cowels is the most popular. Little shade on the south side. Rattlesnake sightings are common.

Courtenay Schuler
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 24, 2020
Hiking

Still blocked at the junction to the service road.

Marcia Blanke
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 17, 2020
Hiking

Good moderate trail. Light amount of people. Could not access the summit today. The trail was closed at the service road for work. No indication of for how long.

Jay G
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 4, 2020
HikingGreat!No shadeRockyScramble

In my view, this trail should be rated difficult instead of moderate. The only reason it's rated a moderate route is because of the heavy traffic. It could just be my physical condition (got a nice quarantine gut going), but I would go with the expectation of suffering. Other than that though, amazing route, and I hope to hike this every now and again...

J C
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 2, 2020
Hiking

Lived in San Diego a long time and this was my first time here. Great conditioning hike and workout. Not that many people if you come really early in the morning.

Jasmin Roberts
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 28, 2020
HikingNo shade
View Jasmin's Recording
Princess Rivers
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 27, 2020
HikingOver grownRocky

The is the best way to go up Cowles. It’s less crowded then the frontal switchback route in the front of Cowles. At first you feel that your just walking behind homes and it’s doesn’t feel like much of an adventure. But be patient and keep going. You will start ascending and notice the populated noisy world disappear behind walls of brush and rock. Bring water and your hiking stick.

Javier Salazar
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 25, 2020
HikingRocky

Very challenging home gets pretty tough at the end but well worth the challenge. Come early to avoid crowds

View Javier's Recording
Michael Heller Chu
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJune 16, 2020
Running

This is a challenging uphill run, if that's what you're after. I tried to maintain a marathon pace but had to stop twice for about 30 seconds each time. The trail is not very technical but is definitely slippery on the way down. You will likely have to walk some bits when the ground loosens up and the descent is steep. Overall it's a lot of fun though. I recommend it for trail runners who are looking to get some serious uphill work in. The incline is steep enough that it's possible to run without stopping. If you're not up to it now, it's a good challenge to work towards.

Joel Castillo
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJune 14, 2020
Hiking

Trail is now open. Great spot for walking or running. Not very crowded at all.

View Joel's Recording
Anna Blottin
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 14, 2020
WalkingOver grownRocky

Enjoyable for a quick butt kicker

View Anna's Recording
Edgar Nieto
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJune 13, 2020
HikingGreat!Rocky

great trail, not overcrowded like main trail up to Cowles. nice shade a little over grown at the beginning but it clears out once about .5 miles in.

View Edgar's Recording
Teresa Harrison
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarMarch 24, 2020
Hiking

Gorgeous day for a hike - quality time outdoors. Big Rock Trail YES! Sun was out, temperature felt like 70. This trail provided ample shade. Sounds of moving water and beautiful Mountain View’s. The trail is well marked and provides some good uphills. Elevation gain 1243ft / completed 5.7miles in 2+ hrs - 24oz tailwind and 12 oz water

Chris Conzelmann
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarMarch 22, 2020
HikingBugsRocky

An easy start to the trail with a clearly marked pathway lead to a steep, rocky climb. Definitely wear shoes/boots with good tread because the loose rocks near the top make it very easy to slip. The trail was busy, with most people hanging out at the summit to see the view. There were some bugs at the summit, but weren’t anything to really worry about. We saw some wildlife along the way including a snake that went into the bushes as we walked by.

Jess Faust
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMarch 21, 2020
Hiking

Today was way more crowded than usual but I love this hike got a good challenge and a straightforward trail.

View Jess's Recording
Philip Jasso
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMarch 17, 2020
HikingRocky
View Philip's Recording
Chris Canning
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarMarch 7, 2020
Hiking

We went the clockwise route (which is opposite what the map shows). With hindsight we’d go the other way, as we found it challenging with our footing getting down after we’d reached Pyles Peak (didn’t help that we brought our dog!). That said, this is still a great hike. The back route to Cowles is a burner, and very easy to navigate. The same with Pyles too. Once you reach the summit of Pyles it gets a bit confusing for maybe 0.1 miles or so, purely navigating the trail, as it isn’t clear with the naked eye that you can still continue (in fact we had a couple sat at the peak tell us there was no way through - there was; it just wasn’t hugely clear). Fairly soon after you notice a clear enough trail (still not super clear). I’d imagine had we gone the opposite way it would’ve been clearer as that trail was our starting point. Was super helpful using other user’s recordings to navigate the last 1.5 miles. Some overgrown parts there and a few cuts, but overall still a really solid hike!

View Chris's Recording
Brandi Rubin
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMarch 6, 2020
HikingNo shade
View Brandi's Recording
Showing results 1 - 23 of 1115