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    Cowels Mtn. Golfcrest Trail

    Mission Trails Regional Park, California
    Distance1.5mi
    Elevation Gain1,221ft
    Trailhead Elevation657ft
    Top1,583ft
    Elevation Min/Max657/1583ft
    Elevation Start/End657/657ft

    Cowels Mtn Golfcrest Trail

    Cowels Mtn. Golfcrest Trail Photos

    Cowels Mtn. Golfcrest Trail Trip Reports

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    icon12 Total
    San Diego, CA
    Explorer | 31 pts
    5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars
    7/28/2018
    Love this trail for a good work out. Difficult trail, steep sometimes, got to be extra careful going down. I have seen many people sliping and falling. No shadow anywhere so, needs to be done very early in the morning or by sunset, especially during hot summer days.
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    San Diego, CA
    Adventurer | 233 pts
    5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars
    7/7/2018
    This is a really popular, beloved hike in the San Diego area, although now it is super hot and dry. Go early in the morning to avoid the heat (springtime is best) and the traffic. There are switchbacks but also level areas, so moderate is a good rating. Give yourself two hours to enjoy it and get your workout on. Panoramic views of downtown SD and Mexico are awesome. One of my faves of the Mission Trails.
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    Phoenix, AZ
    Adventurer | 430 pts
    2 out of 5 stars2 out of 5 stars2 out of 5 stars2 out of 5 stars2 out of 5 stars
    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...
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    Ramona, CA
    Adventurer | 201 pts
    5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars
    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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    San Diego, CA
    Pathfinder | 147 pts
    4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars
    2/19/2010
    Great trail to hike for any age group. Front side has plenty of switch backs to make the climb easier. Winter time is nice for cloud coverage. Morning is always cooler. I always bring water and a hiking stick (rattlesnakes-although I have yet to encounter one:). I feel it is easy and fun and very rewarding once you get to the top--You get a FULL 360 of San Diego and on a clear day you can see the Ocean. Breathtaking. Enjoy!
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    San Diego, CA
    Explorer | 30 pts
    4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars
    7/4/2009
    Nice hike with a great reward, although if you come from the Julian side it is a long climb back out. It was hot the day we went so we consumed all of our water by the time we got back to our vehicle. There was still a small flow of water at the falls, and there was a decent crowd once we were leaving. Due to is popularity it does have some trash present, not too much to make it feel really dirty though.
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    San Diego, CA
    Explorer | 25 pts
    3 out of 5 stars3 out of 5 stars3 out of 5 stars3 out of 5 stars3 out of 5 stars
    4/17/2009
    I actually remember doing this hike last year. Very nice urban hike with some gorgeous views of the city at the top. I even logged the trip in my blog with some photos: http://nefertitian.blogspot.com/2009/04/cowles-mountain-hike.html
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    San Diego, CA
    Trailblazer | 1263 pts
    4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars
    2/8/2009
    Steep mountains with spectacular views of chaparral. Despite the trail--an old jeep road--this area still has the feel of wilderness. I set out about 9:30 with my two boys, ages 2 and 4, from Saddleback junction at the end of Eagle Peak Road. As there were no trailhead markers and not a soul for the last 8 miles of dirt road, I wasn't altogether sure we were even on the right trail. It's a steady not-too-steep descent about 1000 feet to trail that spurs off to the left and down to Cedar Creek. It was a bit cold and the rain started coming down when we arrived at the creek, just in time to eat lunch under one of the many oak trees in the bottom of the canyon. There we saw our first person of the day. Fortunately, we didn't find the dead person that another hiker found just a couple hundred yards upstream from our picnic. (Heart attack? Hypothermia? Cold rain for two days and he wasn't wearing winter clothes). Made for a really creepy feeling for the rest of the day and we headed back up soon after. Before that, fortunately, we scrambled out over a few rocks for a spectacular view of the top of the falls, about a 100-foot drop. Kept close watch on my boys. My youngest too was inexplicably unwilling to hike (he's usually the opposite and refuses to be carried) and whining and crying a lot. Turns out he was spiking a fever, but I didn't know til I got home. So, I'd like to return when circumstances were better, but still a good outing and good to get the boys out into the "wild." They ate it up. My youngest, through his tears of discomfort, still insisted he was having fun and liked the trail.
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    Encinitas, CA
    Pathfinder | 150 pts
    4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars
    6/26/2006
    This is a great little hike but make sure take plenty of water if you are hiking during July or Aug. The trail does not have any shade so the heat gets very intense. The small water pools at the falls are great for the kids.
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    San Marcos, CA
    Pathfinder | 140 pts
    4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars
    5/20/2006
    There are several routes to this excellent swimming hole. We discovered that contrary to the map/guide, you can continue downhill on the Cedar Creek trail past the first (left) turnoff (marked by a no diving sign). If you keep going about 3/4 of a mile, you drop down around the last little hill in the chain and are just about level with the creek you've been parallelling the whole way. At this point there is a big clump of oak trees (an obvious shady resting spot) and a a trail junction, and the trails area all jeep-trail quality (some 4-bys came through when we were there!). Take your left turn off the main trail here; the trail crosses a stream and shortly after narrows to a footpath, and if you have your bearings, you'll notice you're kind of backtracking but this time alongside a smaller stream on the other side of the hills from where you hiked downhill. Follow the path until you reach the swimming hole, probably about 1/2 a mile from the turn-off. The reason I like this alternate is that while it makes the hike a little longer, its much safer and you get to drop all the way to the canyon bottom as part of your hike.
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    Trail Information

    Mission Trails Regional Park
    Nearby City
    Mission Trails Regional Park
    Parks
    Dog-friendly, Kid-friendly
    Accessibility
    Moderate
    Skill Level
    Mission Trails Regional Park
    Local Contacts
    USGS 7.5-minute La Mesa
    Local Maps

    Trail Log