Cowles Mountain—Northeast Approach Trail

Santee, California

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This most difficult approach to Cowles’ summit is also the most beautiful— especially in the early spring when blooming chaparral, ground-hugging wildflowers, and bright-green grass freshen the landscape. The meandering roads and ugly paths cut into the mountain’s northeast slope long ago by bulldozers and motorcycles have been replaced in recent years by better-engineered trails, complete with water bars and other features designed to divert runoff and prevent erosion. Please stay on the designated paths so as to let the scarred areas of the mountain return to a natural state. Mountain biking is allowed on the entire route as described here; however, there are some steep grades and certain sections are strewn with rocks.

Cowles Mountain—Northeast Approach Trail Professional Review and Guide

"This most difficult approach to Cowles’ summit is also the most beautiful— especially in the early spring when blooming chaparral, ground-hugging wildflowers, and bright-green grass freshen the landscape. The meandering roads and ugly paths cut into the mountain’s northeast slope long ago by bulldozers and motorcycles have been replaced in recent years by better-engineered trails, complete with water bars and other features designed to divert runoff and prevent erosion. Please stay on the designated paths so as to let the scarred areas of the mountain return to a natural state. Mountain biking is allowed on the entire route as described here; however, there are some steep grades and certain sections are strewn with rocks."

Activity Type: Hiking, Mountain Biking
Nearby City: Santee
Distance: 4.8
Elevation Gain: 1,400 feet
Trail Type: Loop/Lollipop
Skill Level: Moderate to Difficult
Duration: 3 hours
Season: October through June
Accessibility: Dog-friendly
Local Contacts: Mission Trails Regional Park
Local Maps: USGS La Mesa
Driving Directions: Directions to Cowles Mountain—Northeast Approach Trail

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May 2018