Cowles Mountain

Cowles-Mountain-Summit

Cowles Mountain

Trail Distance: 4.7 Miles                                              Best time to hike: Morning, Afternoon           Directions: Cowles Mountain Blvd and Boulder Lake Rd

Review 0
Hiking Trail
7 10 23 Overall
Users 5.7 (23 votes)
Difficulty6
Scenery7
Map Info8
 

Cowles Mountain

This heart pumping 3 mile vertical climb to the highest point within the city of San Diego. At 1,592 feet, the view from the top of Cowles Mountain makes the climb all the more worth it. I went out there on a Saturday day morning, we must have run into 20 other hikers on the way up. The short distance of the hike mislead me to beleive this one was going to be easy. I was wrong.

Paul B.
“Cowles itself is an amateur hike with very few steep inclines but has always been a S.D. favorite due to the fact that it is the highest peak in the county. If you find yourself going up Cowles 2 or three times in order for a better workout, try hiking to Pyle’s Peak instead. Once you find yourself atop Cowles, head towards the radio tower and you should immediately see a sign for Pyle’s Peak. It adds about another 4 miles round trip to your hike and offers much steeper inclines than Cowles. And at the peak I find it to be an even better view than atop Cowles. I go to Cowles Mtn. often, and I hike Pyle’s Peak every time. I’m surprised more people don’t take advantage of it! Go check it out!!!”
Paul B. San Diego, Ca

Cowles-Mountain-Summit
sunrise_on_cowles_mountain_2
Mt-Helix-Facing-Cowles-Mt
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


Meetup group for hiking in San Diego


Leave your rating


What fellow hikers say... 23 Leave your rating
needed portapotti
My grandson and I hiked to the top, and he really had to go to the bathroom. I thought there would be a portapotti at the top, but did not. I believe it would benefit Cowles mt. hikers to have a throne at the top. thank's Jon.
November 12, 2013, 12:45 pm
Difficulty0
Scenery0
Map Info0
-
-
Hot day hike
Great hike up for my leg workout. Hazy day but still a decent view. Bring a large bottle of water and it's a good idea to keep a little cooler of water or some frozen water bottles for when you return. You'll use all your water on the hike up and down. There's a 7-11 and several stores close by, but it's nice to have cold water upon return.

Beginners and people who are overweight should stick to the road trail. It's easier on the decline as you'll be tired and lose of concentration on the stairs trail, could cause injury.

If you live in San Diego, there is no need for a gym membership. Do this hike four times a week and you'll get in shape. I'm training to run it.

If you have teenage kids this is a great way for the family to get exercise together. Better than playing on your WEE!!

Enjoy and get outside!!
September 16, 2013, 9:02 pm
Difficulty6
Scenery9
Map Info10
-
-
Phhheeewwwffff
Kicks my butt everytime. Great hike. Best time to go would be in the morning before 10 a.m. because it can get pretty packed and the trail's narrow. Bring your pups!!!
March 25, 2013, 12:33 pm
Difficulty7
Scenery8
Map Info0
-
-
Cowle's Mtn. to Pyle's Peak
Cowles itself is an amateur hike with very few steep inclines but has always been a S.D. favorite due to the fact that it is the highest peak in the county. If you find yourself going up Cowles 2 or three times in order for a better workout, try hiking to Pyle's Peak instead. Once you find yourself atop Cowles, head towards the radio tower and you should immediately see a sign for Pyle's Peak. It adds about another 4 miles round trip to your hike and offers much steeper inclines than Cowles. And at the peak I find it to be an even better view than atop Cowles. I go to Cowles Mtn. often, and I hike Pyle's Peak every time. I'm surprised more people don't take advantage of it! Go check it out!!!
May 8, 2012, 1:46 pm
Difficulty5
Scenery8
Map Info8
-
-
Social Running for Warriors!
Cowles Mountain is a Member Favorite! We run the Trails, Beaches, and Parks of San Diego every weekend, Look us up!
www.ZTActive.com
Facebook.com/ZTActive
April 28, 2012, 1:05 pm
Difficulty0
Scenery0
Map Info0
-
-
my first hike.
This was my first hike. i did zero research besides googling the closest place to home. come to find out from fellow hikers that this was the steepest. the scenery was amazing. im recovering from multiple surgeries so i cant really run anymore so i decided to hike. i made it all the way up in tennis shoes(sketchy). im sore today i will come back very soon. im out of shape and i made it fairly quickly, the in shape people all passed me. i wouldnt see it as that much of a challenge for the experienced.
November 29, 2011, 2:33 pm
Difficulty5
Scenery8
Map Info10
-
-
Dragging the kids along
I hiked this train at about 4pm and had my 9 and 6 year old sons along with my 2 (almost 3) year old daughter. It was a great, fun hike and the kids kept everything interesting. If you take your younger children, be prepared to rest every half mile or so and to help them up the steeper parts. Bring LOTS of water and wear sunscreen! It was almost 90 degrees during most of our hike. Took us almost two hours to complete!
September 7, 2011, 8:43 pm
Difficulty8
Scenery7
Map Info8
-
-
Energy Shot
This is a great hike going on the 19th time today. love this trail, not for the rookies. A great hike works wonders. thank you little energy shots. I begain a yearly routine on thanksgiving, bring it on turkey & ham.
June 29, 2011, 8:21 pm
Difficulty8
Scenery10
Map Info7
-
-
What a challenge!
Went for a hike with a group of co-workers. Most of which were very in shape or regular hikers. I had zero desire to challenge myself with Cowles Mountain for my first hike, but had no other choice. It was very hard for me, and I had to stop about 4 times to take a break. However, once we got to the top, it was WELL worth it! The view is beautiful and the fresh breeze was amazing. There are a lot of people on the trail and that was on a Friday morning. Also, it's very rocky, so plan for that. I can't wait to try it again!
May 28, 2011, 1:59 am
Difficulty8
Scenery6
Map Info0
-
-
Cowles Mountain
This was such a steep climb, no wonder it's the highest point in San Diego! It's tricky to go there the trail starts between some houses.There are signs of rattle snakes. The trail is very narrow. There is a lot of twists and turns.
March 5, 2011, 6:21 pm
Difficulty0
Scenery0
Map Info0
-
-
StairMaster
The trail is extremely rocky, but at least it's not boring! I would have to say that a majority of the time hiking up there, I was literally climbing up the whole way! It was definitely like an interval session on the StairMaster, no joke. But, it's a very quick trail. Took us about 40 minutes to get up there and about 20 to get back down, although we did take a lot of shortcuts on the way back down. It's a fun, quick and challenging hike!
February 8, 2011, 7:31 pm
Difficulty7
Scenery5
Map Info5
-
-
Just do it
I have been thinking about hiking for a while but I ll always find an excuse to not do it.

well, I did it n it was amazing, I am definitely going back.

Even tho I am a heavy smoker I was able to get to the top and enjoyed the view,( I need to quit cig for sure) with no stop.

U dont really need to be with somebody if u dont have a friend who's willing to go.

Make sure u bring a bottle of water with u cuz u ll definetly need some when u get to the top.

I got there around 1 :30 n I was back @ my place @ 3:40, of course once I got to the top I had to sit down n enjoyed the view.

No need to worry about crimes or anything like that, u ll see other individuals along the way.

If u had kids bring them, they need to enjoy n reconnect with nature :)

Make sure your shoes r not slippery, u dont want that on your way down...

Enjoy... :)
January 16, 2011, 7:35 pm
Difficulty6
Scenery8
Map Info8
-
-
Great for Regular Exercise
I try to do Cowles 3 times a week. I generally do it at around 5:30 in the morning so there's not a lot of people on the trail at that time, only the regulars. It usually takes me 50-55 minutes round trip. It's a great hike to do as part of an exercise routine. A nice addition is to add Pyles peak to your hike. If you do that during spring after a lot of rain, the variety of flowers is amazing.
January 12, 2011, 8:58 pm
Difficulty4
Scenery8
Map Info5
-
-
Great for the legs/butt
I love this hike. It takes me about 30 minutes up and 30 mins down. The leg workout is GREAT!! I am also a cardio junkie... LOVE this hike. If you want a quick....awesome workout....try COWLES MTN!!
September 26, 2010, 6:12 pm
Difficulty6
Scenery4
Map Info5
-
-
...DO IT AT LEAST 1 TIME...
I run regularly so I thought this would be pretty simple to jog up. I had to stop and walk 3 times for a short distance. This can challenge any runner especially as you increase intensity. If you walk then this trail shouldn't present any problems. I considered bringing the kids in a double stroller but it wouldn't be worth the hassle. Too steep towards the peak.

The view was great. It's a nice escape considering one is so close to the city.

The trail is wide and clear so no need to fear snakes and such. It was a Wednesday afternoon and I ran into several other people. One helicopter scouted the area overhead and one utility vehicle drove down from the peak. (Public trail, no need to worry about getting stranded)

Bring water (I only drank a small bottle even in the sun) and use a restroom prior to starting.
September 15, 2010, 8:25 pm
Difficulty5
Scenery8
Map Info10
-
-
perfect working person hike
I go to school full time and work full time... which leaves little other time,

BUT Cowles is close, short, and sweet. Oh course you are going to meet alot of other people (from that buddist who trecks every morning to the old friends out for a good chat and sweat).

What makes it so great is that you see other people- don't go here looking for isolation. I've been at sunrise- and still there were others who beat me there. It is that great.

I love being at the top, seeing all of San Diego, and feeling like that is the only time I'm a part of our crazy world.
July 8, 2010, 1:57 am
Difficulty6
Scenery5
Map Info10
-
-
WOO HOO!
I considered myself to be in pretty good shape, but I was huffing and puffing by the time I got the top! It's a beautiful hike. The work on the way up is totally worth the view. You can see the ocean, the ships on base, and the all-to-familiar San Diego skyline. If you look to the north-east you can see Santee, El Cajon and beyond. I am going back for sure!
January 14, 2010, 4:38 pm
Difficulty7
Scenery9
Map Info8
-
-
Short and Sweet
I used the entrance at Golf Crest and Navajo and it is 1.5 miles up. I have done it a few times now and it is always fun. You will see many people on this trail during the weekends. For an extra burn, run up it. It's enjoyable to walk up and jog down for a bit of extra excitement. It can get pretty warm, but never too hot to handle.

Scenery is the same as most mountains in San Diego, so I gave it a 4. Looking out over the city is nice, but similar to the rest.
October 5, 2009, 1:16 am
Difficulty6
Scenery4
Map Info7
-
-
cowles mountain
Hi! I have a question. We are visiting San Diego this week (10/6 thru 10/12). We would like to do this hike, but I need to know if the distance you posted - 4.7 miles is one-way or round-trip? If it's round-trip, that would be perfect; one-way would be a long day. Please let me know by Monday, 10/5/09 if possible.

Thank you so much. I really appreciate any help you can give us re: this.

Shari from IL
October 4, 2009, 4:49 pm
Difficulty0
Scenery0
Map Info0
-
-
Great scenery, very short hike.
Compared to Mt. Woodson and Iron Mountain, Mt. Cowles is a very short hike. It does have a few steep parts, but if you have hiked the two mountains i mentioned above then Cowles should be a piece of cake.

I went on a Sunday afternoon and saw about 50+ fellow hikers, so it does get pretty crowded. I gave it 5 stars for difficulty because of its short length. It took only about 20 minutes to summit and about the same to hike down. If your looking for a quick sweat, Cowles is your mountain.
August 16, 2009, 7:20 pm
Difficulty5
Scenery10
Map Info10
-
-
Cowles Mountain
I am in pretty good shape, but I haven't hiked a mountain in years. Cowles Mountain was basically my first. I rated it 7, not b/c I questioned whether I could make the top, but by the quality of workout it took.

Forget about the gym. No matter how long it takes, it's time better spent, physically and mentally. And if you can't make it, now you have a greater incentive to come back, instead of hoping to beat your elliptical time.

24 hours later, my quads are on fire, my abs are sore and my shoulders and arms are burning...all in a good way. I feel strong and accomplished.

It also seems that there are multiple paths to get to the top. I went from up Mesa Rd, so I look forward to going a different route, hence, the low map rating.

As you approach the peak, you realize that the last bit is the toughest and most vertical, as well as the most rewarding. Some shouldn't try it on their first time...you'll know it when you see it. Remember, the way down is tough too, despite the aid of gravity.

At the summit, there's plenty of spots to sit and have lunch with great views. If you're in shape, you'll enjoy the workout. If you're not fit, I would start with a smaller mountain or be content to not complete this one, if you can't make that last part. Don't be a victim of pride; there's no judges on the mountain.
May 26, 2009, 5:48 pm
Difficulty7
Scenery6
Map Info5
-
-
Great Family Hike
I just hiked this trail this morning with my family (wife and one-year-old). It was a perfect hike for us. We also had kids ages 7, 5, and 3 with us. We had to stop quite a few times on the way up, but everyone made it and had a great time. Everyone in San Diego needs to hike this trail at least once. Bring the littlest ones in a backpack (not a stroller) as the trail is rocky and a bit steep in places. Have fun!
January 11, 2009, 12:09 am
Difficulty6
Scenery8
Map Info10
-
-
Take a mountain bike with you
This is a great trail for mountain biking. The ride up is grueling but the ride down is wild and fast.
December 26, 2008, 9:46 pm
Difficulty8
Scenery9
Map Info9
-
-

Comments

comments

David Hay

by David Hay

An Aussie transplant living in San Diego. I've chosen to live in this fair city for the past seven years because I truly believe it's one of the best in the world; there's no better city to enjoy sunshine and the outdoors.