“Reach the top of Cowles Mountain without the crowds of the main trail.”
— Phil Steffek
Views · Wildflowers
With 10% of the traffic that the primary Cowles Mountain Trailhead sees, the Barker Way Trail is a great option with arguably better views than the main trail.
The easy-to-spot trailhead is on Barker Way with ample street parking. Head up the service road for approximately 100 yards and look to your left for the trail. A sign reads Cowles Mountain Summit. The trail rises through a series of switchbacks which will quickly give you a view of the surrounding neighborhoods and Lake Murray. During the spring, small bunches of wildflowers can be spotted in the trailside brush.
After roughly one mile, your quiet trail will intersect the Cowles Mountain Trail
coming up from the Golfcrest Trailhead. Quickly survey your surroundings so you'll be able to spot the Barker Way Trail on your way back.
To continue up to the summit of Cowles Mountain, turn right (uphill) on Cowles Mountain Trail
and head towards the top. Once there, enjoy 360-degree views and make sure to touch the summit marker! To get back to the Barker Way Trailhead, reverse your route keeping an eye out for the Barker Way Trail which will be on your left as you head downhill.
Flora & Fauna
Beware of rattlesnakes throughout the area! Also, wildflowers can be spotted in spring.