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Cowles Mountain Trail

Intermediate/Difficult
 3.8 (19)

The tallest mountain in the city of San Diego and the most popular.


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Map Key

1.4

Miles

2.2

KM

Point to Point

1,568' 478 m

High

668' 204 m

Low

900' 274 m

Up

0' 0 m

Down

12%

Avg Grade (7°)

25%

Max Grade (14°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Views · Wildflowers

Description

At 800 feet, Cowles Mountain won't attract many mountaineers, but it can attract crowds looking for a workout and a chance to get in touch with nature less than 10 miles from downtown.

The small parking lot on Golfcrest Avenue has bathrooms with running water and drinking fountains. If the parking lot is full, find a spot on Golfcrest Ave.

The trail is well marked and uses a series of switchbacks to keep it accessible to anyone with a decent supply of energy (One of the local elementary schools uses this trail to get a class of 1st graders to the top). After a mile or so, you'll pass the intersection with Barker Way Trail on the right, continue straight to reach the summit.

The trail can be crowded, so plan to take your time and enjoy the views along the way. Signs at the summit help you identify surrounding peaks and you can easily see the Pacific Ocean, the Coronados Islands, and south into Mexico.

To return, simply retrace your steps back to the Golfcrest Trailhead.

Contacts

Shared By:

Phil Steffek

Trail Ratings

  3.8 from 19 votes

#7284

Overall
  3.8 from 19 votes
5 Star
32%
4 Star
26%
3 Star
32%
2 Star
11%
1 Star
0%
Trail Rankings

#636

in California

#7,284

Overall
19 Views Last Month
2,662 Since May 6, 2015
Intermediate/Difficult

0%
0%
65%
12%
24%
0%

Photos

Looking North East from the top of Cowles Mountain. The trail that can be seen is the service road.
Jun 29, 2015 near La Mesa, CA
Made it to the top after an 8 month layoff!
Nov 12, 2021 near La Mesa, CA
Cowles Mountain Trail.
May 12, 2015 near La Mesa, CA
View from Cowles Mountain
May 5, 2015 near La Mesa, CA
San Diego morning - get above the smog!
May 12, 2015 near La Mesa, CA

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Current Trail Conditions

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All Clear 66 days ago See History
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Check-Ins

Apr 9, 2021
Joe LaGreca
Feb 26, 2020
Mario Gonzalez
Me Ernesto and gabe me is mario 1.5mi — 11h 28m
Feb 1, 2020
Amanda M
crowded, no shade. 2.8mi — 1h 40m
Nov 9, 2019
Justin Penn
2.8mi — 1h 20m
Sep 18, 2019
Jon Mooney
Nice day, not too crowded At 9:30 this morning. It was exactly 3 miles for me, from parking lot and back. 3mi
May 29, 2019
Neil Delacruz
May 26, 2019
Neil Delacruz
May 24, 2019
Greg Michel
Sunny, 76 degrees 2.8mi — 15h 40m