Cowles Mountain Trail

MODERATE 1,604 reviews

Cowles Mountain Trail is a 2.9 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near San Diego, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
2.9 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
912 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

kid friendly

birding

hiking

mountain biking

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

views

wild flowers

rocky

no shade

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
2 days ago

awesome trail front side I good start then move to side service road and then for extra distance use big rock,, I come here at least twice a week for cardio workout

2 days ago

Great trail, was packed by 9am. Ground was like stepping on marbles and feet went out from under me. Beautiful view all the way up

hiking
5 days ago

I hike the service road 4-5 times a week. Great hike and I love it. Amazed how much trash is left behind and people with dogs off leash. Just posted a picture of a rattlesnake I saw last week. Please leash your dog so they don’t get bitten and I better not catch anyone leaving trash.

hiking
12 days ago

Great late evening hike!

15 days ago

:)

20 days ago

A little challenging due to the amount of people but great. Please keep your pups on a leash, especially the smaller ones. People do run up and down. Once you reach the top know there are other trails that branch off. Take water!

hiking
23 days ago

Nice if you hike early morning

hiking
24 days ago

This hike is easily one of my favorites!!! It’s challenging enough to get your heart pumping & there is such an incredibly beautiful view from the top!! I love the two panoramic photo boards that point out many of the noteworthy sights you can see from the summit!

1 month ago

It's beautiful

1 month ago

great experience in wonderful views

1 month ago

great trail. go early to miss the heat. it is usually 10-15 degrees warmer than downtown. bring extra water.

hiking
1 month ago

Simple, easy to follow trail with great views at the top.

hiking
2 months ago

Amazing view! A little crowded and dog owners need to do a better job of cleaning up after their pets!!

hiking
2 months ago

I have an 8 year old daughter who had never been hiking before. She pushed through it and was so proud of herself at the top. I think it’s the perfect challenge for kiddos around that age. Adult beginners too! The views at the top are incredible.

hiking
2 months ago

Obviously a staple in the San Diego area. This trail is easily travelled by even children around 8 to 10. You'll probably have more trouble with crowds than the trail itself. Go as early as possible to avoid congestion. Plus, early morning views from the crest are amazing.

2 months ago

Great hike, rocky, have gone with my friends, my hubby & kids (7, 11, 15) and also my mom in her 60s, go early 7 or 8, nice views, bring water and snack, can get crowded later in day. Breakfast or brunch at Trails Eatery after. Enjoy!

hiking
2 months ago

Great trail, nice hike moderately traveled. Amazing view once you get to the top! Only 4 stars because not many posted signs and there are no bathrooms and based on the number of rattle snakes I saw, you will not want to venture into the brush to go.

2 months ago

Done it many times, very nice spot; that whole Regional Park system as well!

2 months ago

Personal favorite when I visit home. Bring water as always

trail running
2 months ago

You must run this trail early in the morning. By mid to late morning, it’s extremely busy. Not too hard of a hike and the view at the top is gorgeous!

2 months ago

Cowles is a convenient, quick hike that unfortunately is a victim of its popularity. The trail itself is great, maintained well with challenging sections and plenty of areas to catch your breath. But Cowles can be extremely busy, and SO MANY hiking it have zero trail manners, which is a huge bummer. Parking can also be a chore if you arrive during busy times.

BUT, the views are great once you get to the top. Full view of every bit of San Diego and beyond. Definitely worth it.

2 months ago

Great for almost everyone (except if you have bad knees...)

2 months ago

Great view!

hiking
2 months ago

can't beat the view!!!

3 months ago

Great up hill hike... amazing views

hiking
3 months ago

Easy and short trail with nice views at the top.

hiking
3 months ago

My first West Coast hike and I enjoyed it. The day was of course hot and dry which is much different than what I'm used to in the Northeast but with enough water certainly enjoyable. The view was fantastic all the way up. Wasn't too busy late morning on a weekday. Path is dusty and firm packed but no real traction issues. Just over an hour up and back. A good way to start my vacation.

3 months ago

Crowded but enjoyed it

hiking
3 months ago

I have completed Cowles Mountain a couples time and, for a person that doesn't hike, it is a moderate hike. I don't mind the crowds that much. It is a very fun hike that usually takes me about 2 hours up and down.

hiking
3 months ago

Great hike, good amount of switchbacks but plenty of level ground to catch your breath. Would definitely rate this hike more on the easier side. Really enjoy the view once you get to the top! Would have given it 5 stars but the trail is very busy at all times of the day and the people on the trail tend to keep to themselves without a smile or "hello". We can't control the popularity of the trail, but a little smile or "hello" goes a long way to making a trail more enjoyable.

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