Cowles Mountain Trail is a 3 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near San Diego, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, running, and mountain biking and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 3.0 miles Elevation Gain: 908 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash

kid friendly

hiking

mountain biking

running

views

wild flowers

rocky

no shade

Note: This trail, the parking lot and restrooms may still be closed due to COVID-19. Please check the the Mission Trails Regional Park website for more information. https://www.sandiego.gov/park-and-recreation/parks/osp/mtrails The scenic pathway up Cowles Mountain is one of the most popular trails in San Diego County. The trailhead starts in the San Carlos neighborhood on the corner of Golfcrest Drive and Navajo Road and summits the highest point in the City of San Diego. Visitors will enjoy great views during the entire ascent but the summit offers 360 degree panoramic views of downtown San Diego, Mexico, North County and Orange County on a clear day.

hiking
closed
1 day ago

The parking lot and trails were closed as of the morning of 5/29. Probably a great trail but I’ll have to find out later.

hiking
3 days ago

Crowded but a nice hike if you want to get out of San Diego for the day!

hiking
4 days ago

Everyone and their grandma has done Cowel's. About 20-25 (maybe less) minutes up if you're actually hiking and not lollygagging like the vast majority of people. So-so views and usually annoyingly crowded unless you go early in the AM or late in the PM.

hiking
13 days ago

Cowles Mountain is that hike you do with your co-workers before work one morning or with your kids on the weekend. It will most likely be crowded. An hour or less up, slightly less going back down. Everyone in San Diego does it. It's not a big deal.

hiking
rocky
14 days ago

Eggsellant!

bugs
closed
no shade
rocky
14 days ago

(Still Closed) but totally recommend to go watch the sunrise or sunset at the top. So breath taking. I've hiked Cowles Mt so many times in the last years & it's always so crowded so the earlier you get there the better. Watch your step dirt is super slippery I always fall on my bottom on my way down.

[late post, hike done in 2019] Best views of SD. Go early before the hike rush hour.

hiking
rocky
17 days ago

Very crowded hike whenever you go. Good gradual incline. View of all of San Diego at the top.

no shade
1 month ago

I've been hiking Cowels for nearly 20 years, long enough to remember when it was no problem getting a parking spot in the actual parking lot. Now, it's way over crowded and noisy, with the occasional "hiker" with music on loud speaker. I still do it because it's such a good, quick workout and it's conveniently located in the city.

hiking
1 month ago

They closed it until further notice :(

hiking
rocky
1 month ago

I went on February of 2019. It was about 9 in the morning, not too busy. Certainly different from some of the trails we have here in Missouri where there are trees everywhere. I loved it, though! Great view!

hiking
no shade
rocky
2 months ago

Extremely crowded.

hiking
muddy
rocky
2 months ago

hiking
2 months ago

Good hike, dirty and very crowded

hiking
flooded
muddy
rocky
2 months ago

Cowles Mountain is the highest peak in San Diego. Parking can be rough at peak times, we went early in the morning, 7am-ish, with no problem. Unlike some other San Diego trails, facilities at the trailhead are ample: benches and shady trees make great picnic spots, there’s also restrooms at the bottom, which is always good. The view from the top of Cowles Mountain is a stunner. We encountered way more people on our way down. But overall, it’s was pretty awesome. We got some açaí bowls afterwards across the street, delicious!!!

hiking
2 months ago

Gorgeous views at the top! Be prepared for the trails to be busy- we went on a Monday at 10:30 am and it was very busy. Bring lots of water and a snack for the top!

hiking
muddy
rocky
2 months ago

hiking
2 months ago

Great trail, a bit rocky, but the view at the top is amazing. Be on the lookout for the self important crossfit idiots that run up and down the trail with no regard for anyone else.

hiking
rocky
2 months ago

hiking
muddy
rocky
2 months ago

Perfect length for out of towers who don’t often hike mountains. We went at the tail end of a rain storm, and we still saw a few groups on the trail. Good workout and had it been clearer I’m sure the views would have been great. Sad to see many bags of dog poo just tossed to the side of the trail, though.

hiking
rocky
2 months ago

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