Explore the most popular hiking trails near Santee with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

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

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
11 days 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!!!

Clean, nice people along it. It’s wide so many people can pass by. There’s a fountain to get water for your dog.

15 days 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 trip! 40 mins up 30 mins down!

It is HARD the first part is somewhat easy but that last part is so steep watch your step coming down always worth it at the end good luck !

First time here. Really good trail!

Not much to look at on this hike until you get to the top. Great views of San Diego once you get there. Pretty good work out. Went on a week day and it wasn’t crowded at all.

steep, but good for the calves! pretty view!

Good hiking

It is good, less people on the Pyle trail

Great trail for training. l less crowded than the main Trail.

Stowe trail goes along a water treatment plant then through the Marine corps base. Nice and secluded, but the signs every 20 feet reminding you to stay on the trail kind of ruin the experience. Once you get to the Preserve it's much more enjoyable. I skip Stowe's trail and go straight to Sycamore now.

Extremely fun! Great flat piece for photos

short, steep, and sweet view at the top. Not many people either. Tranquillity.

Finished it on a not so hot day. 2/5 five peaks challenge finished

The majority of the trail was pretty tame, though it got steep towards the end. Lots of people on the trail at 8 am on a Saturday. Nice views of the city at the top. The trail is well maintained and easy to follow. It starts by a city park with bathrooms, so that's a bonus!

2 months ago

Great short hike.Strenuous effort to give you a workout. Short enough to do anytime.

If one must do cowles, I definitely suggest this route. It is much less crowded than the front way and there is tons of shade. Doable for children as young as 5.

Definitely moderate even though the signs are rated difficult. Went early to beat the sun. Not too busy of a trail although there were some working cars driving up and down. Very steep part towards the summit for about .5 miles. Make sure you wear proper shoes!

2 months ago

great for an after work hike. takes us about an hour to get up and down. dont underestimate it though. the last part is pretty steep and will give you a workout. watch out for rattlers.

Challenging steep hike. One of 5 of the 5 peak challenge. Not a whole lot of view but great leg without.

This was much more challenging than Cowles Mountain but beautiful none-the-less! It was steep with some loose footing areas. Also not as good of a view as Cowles but to have the challenge is part of the fun!

once again alltrails has a trail mislabeled. the trailhead sign lists this as difficult, not moderate. this is pretty much all uphill and probably should be classified as hard based on the park’s signage.

overall a nice hike tho, pretty views.

2 months ago

Well, not much to say. If you’ve already done 4 of the 5 peaks of Mission Trails, might as well walk up there and scratch it off the list. It’s delightfully steep in spots. Unremarkable summit, not much to write home about. If you’re looking for a real challenge though, try the bouldering/scrambling route from the top of the Climber’s Loop up to Kwayy Paay Peak. Great training for some of those cross country summit hikes out in the desert. Just be super careful if you go up that way!

on Big Rock Trail

3 months ago

a great way to go to the top of Cowles Mountain without all the traffic. A good workout fairly steep in places lots of stairs to climb. Go early it gets hot! the only reason not five stars is because it's pretty dusty in the summer months.

mountain biking
3 months ago

Nice bike ride next to the water that leads you under a bridge while riding fast (pretty cool).

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