Cowles Mountain is the highest point in the city of San Diego at 1,592 ft elevation. It lies within Mission Trails Regional Park, which is 6,150-acres and is the 7th largest open space urban park in the United States. The park has rugged canyons, rolling hills, flower meadows, and a variety of recreational activities available within it's boundaries.
What Makes It Great
The trail to the top of Cowles Mountain is 1.5 miles long, which makes the round-trip distance a total of 3 miles, essentially straight up and then right back down. The total elevation gain is around 950 feet, which means this is certainly no slouch of a hike.
That being said, people of all age groups complete this popular trek on a daily basis- from the very young to the very old- and it's a great place for the family to experience together. There is mostly low-growing vegetation along the trail, giving visitors gorgeous views the whole way up. The 360 degree view from the summit will make the effort well worth it, as it's one of the most beautiful vistas in San Diego.
Who is Going to Love It
Cowles Mountain a good destination for trail runners interested in challenging themselves. Every runner knows how nice it can be to sometimes take the body to its limits. And the challenging, short and steep run up Cowles Mountain is just the opportunity to do so.
It's also a great place for families with young children or teenagers because of its shorter distance, and is an all-around fun challenge.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
The trailhead for Cowles Mountain is located on Golfcrest Drive, across from Cowles Mountain Coffee Co., near the intersection of Golfcrest Drive and Navajo Road.
There are restrooms and water conveniently located at the Golfcrest Drive trailhead, and erosion has historically been a major issue on Cowles Mountain, so please stay on the trail, especially along the switchbacks.