Cowles Mountain

La Mesa, California

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8 Reviews
4 out of 5
Touted as one of the largest urban parks in the country, Mission Trails Regional Park, in San Diego’s San Carlos district, preserves some of the last remaining open space close to the heart of this sprawling city. Cowles Mountain, centerpiece of the regional park, stands 1,591 feet above sea level and is recognized as the highest point within San Diego’s city limits. Hundreds of people walk the main south trail to its summit daily. Since several newer trails have been laid out on the east and north slopes of the mountain in recent years, hikers can choose from among several summit routes. We describe the ever-popular south route, which consistently offers vistas stretching from the Pacific Ocean to Mexico.
101 Hikes in Southern California: Exploring Mountains, Seashore and Desert

DESCRIPTION FROM:

101 Hikes in Southern California: Exploring Mountains, Seashore and Desert

by Jerry Schad and David Money Harris (Wilderness Press)

Touted as one of the largest urban parks in the country, Mission Trails Regional Park, in San Diego’s San Carlos district, preserves some of the last remaining open space close to the heart of this sprawling city. Cowles Mountain, centerpiece of the regional park, stands 1,591 feet above sea level and is recognized as the highest point within San Diego’s city limits. Hundreds of people walk the main south trail to its summit daily. Since several newer trails have been laid out on the east and north slopes of the mountain in recent years, hikers can choose from among several summit routes. We describe the ever-popular south route, which consistently offers vistas stretching from the Pacific Ocean to Mexico.

© 2013 Jerry Schad and David Money Harris/Wilderness Press. All Rights Reserved.

Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: La Mesa
Length: 2.8
Elevation Gain: 950 feet
Trail Type: Loop/Lollipop
Skill Level: Moderate
Duration: 2 hours
Season: All year
Accessibility: Dog-friendly, Kid-friendly
Local Contacts: Mission Trails Regional Park
Local Maps: USGS 7.5-minute La Mesa
Topo Map: Cowles Mountain Topographic Map
Guide Book: 101 Hikes in Southern California: Exploring Mountains, Seashore and Desert Guide Book
Driving Directions: View Directions
Trail Directions: View Guide

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Recent Trail Reviews

9/16/2012

Got to the trail head and it was closed. No explanation just directions to some other trailhead down some 13 mile dirt road...

5/31/2010

First let me say that I am just getting reconditioned to hiking, I am 42 and quite heavy. I did this on memorial day and the week prior to memorial day. The difference in temperature between the two hikes was about 20 degrees, which made a huge difference. I actually come from the Ramona Oaks side, which is 1000 feet elevation change in about 1.25 miles. Both the descent and ascent are intense. At 60 degrees it was tough but not a real problem for me. At 80 degrees it was quite strenuous and required many breaks. I brought 2 litres of water and used it all as well as the 1/2 litre a kid gave me near the end. Thanks kid!! The falls are awesome. I went to the top pools which were much less populated. Had the place to myself for a good 45 minutes. The bottom had an average of about 50 people the whole time. Total trip time was 6 hours, total hike time 4.25 hours. 100% worth the trip. I will definately take more water and possibly try to get out there later in the day to avoid the intense sushine. There is very little shade along the route unless you are willing to crawl under a rock or bush. something my dog was quite good at.

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