Cowles Mountain is one of the most popular hikes in San Diego but it is so for a reason. Parking here can also be a significant challenge – at peak times its so busy that cars line the street as far as the eye can see. Looking northeast we could see El Cajon Mountain, Cuyamaca Peak, and Viejas Mountain. In fact, the trail was actually closed for a full two months in 2013 for restoration work. Arrive at Big Rock park which has good parking. This morning, temperatures were in the 70's, with a beautiful breeze. Mission Trails Regional Park Turn right on Navajo Road and continue 2 miles to the Cowles Mountain Trailhead, located on the northeast corner of Navajo Road and Golfcrest Drive. Another popular stop is the Old Mission Dam , which was built to supply irrigation water to farm land that supplied food for the … We miraculously scored a spot in the actual parking lot, saving us the usual additional quarter mile uphill trek along the sidewalk from our car to the trailhead. As the trail turned left to skirt the subpeak, we paused for a moment to enjoy the view. Cowles Mountain Trail Hike Retrospective. Time to complete: 1.5-2 hours. While other trails could be turned into a loop to limit the amount of hikers passing each other, the Cowles Mountain trail could not, Faulconer said. We continued around to the back of the subpeak. To the northwest were the remaining four peaks of Mission Trails: Pyle’s Peak, Kwaay Paay, South Fortuna, and North Fortuna. Being the most popular trail in the county means that the it suffers a significant amount of wear and tear. The parking area will almost definitely be full, so park along the street where you can, making sure not to block anyone’s driveway. map, For more information, visit: Contacts. Be aware! I feel pretty safe in saying that Cowles Mountain in Mission Trails Regional Park is the most well-known, and well-used hiking trail in San Diego County. This is a very popular trail with them, so keep your eyes open and be polite. Around .4 mile, the switchbacks subsided for a bit and the trail headed towards a small subpeak. Parking is limited at this location. Park close to the gated, unpaved service road heading up the east slope of Cowles Mountain. Getting There: From Mission Gorge Road on Santee’s west side, turn south on Mesa Road. There are several different routes up the mountain, the most popular being the southern route starting at Golfcrest and Navajo. Bathroom Facilities: There are bathroom facilities for the Cowles Mountain Trailhead taking the south approach, there is none for the east approach. 26 trails with 26 photos The everso popular Cowles Mountain has another side that most folks have not explored. 16 reviews of Cowles Mountain via Barker Way "trying something new...went on a nice long walk up the mountain with my friend Cinna B. this was such a fun day! Brad Spiess, All Rights Reserved. Today, we saw evidence of the never ending work of keeping the trail maintained in the form of caution tape marking the side of the trail. Cowles Park is a singletrack mountain bike trail in East Granby, Connecticut. The staging area is one of the nicer trailheads I’ve been to, with a number of benches and shade trees, as well as the more utilitarian drinking fountain and bathroom. Cowles Mountain trail is about 1.5 miles of uphill, moderately strenuous hiking. Turn right onto Barker Way. Located in Mission Trails Regional Park, this mountain is the tallest point in the City of San Diego. googlemaps/cris hazzard Although the trail there and back is only three miles, the steep incline will make it feel almost double. It wasn't hard at … In fact, this trail is so popular that Mission Trails Regional Park has created the 5-Peak Challenge to encourage hikers to explore other areas of the park in the hopes of alleviating some of the parking issues. The trail - with less than 10% of the use of the Cowles Mountain’s Golfcrest trail - starts on a gravel park service road off Barker Way. It provides a great workout and is a choice spot for watching sunrise, sunset, or enjoying a full moon. The small parking lot on Golfcrest Avenue has bathrooms with running water and drinking fountains. Dogs must be on a leash. Getting There: For the East Approach – exit interstate 8 at College Ave., go north for 1 mile. Cowles Mountain is a popular trail in San Diego's Mission Trails Regional Park that is the city's official high point. Membership; Admin; Contact; Facebook; Twitter; Amazon View maps, videos, photos, and reviews of Cowles Park bike trail in East Granby. 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. View Trail Map, Cowles Mountain is the tallest point within the City of San Diego, and one of the most popular hikes in the county. Parking for Cowles Mountain Parking will be different for each trail, but there is free parking for all three trails mentioned below. Previously, we'd written…, I feel pretty safe in saying that Cowles Mountain in Mission Trails Regional Park is the most well-known, and well-used hiking trail in San Diego County. Cowles Mountain is probably the most popular hiking destination in San Diego, and of the several possible routes to the peak, the trail starting at Golfcrest and Navajo is by far the most heavily used (check out our write-ups of alternate starting points Big Rock Park and Barker Way). Add Rating. Despite the view at the top, Cowles Mountain Trail loses two stars for having inadequate parking, a never-ending stream of hikers, and for being a short and relatively uninteresting hike. Per the San Diego County public health order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, areas of Mission Trails Regional Park (MTRP) are open for passive use only. cowles mountain activity log | embed map of Cowles Mountain mountain bike trails | subscribe add to favorites print map 3d map donate to earn trail karma! It’s easily accessible, provides a great workout, and as the highest point within the City of San Diego, offers…, Kwaay Paay Peak in Mission Trails Regional Park doesn’t receive nearly the amount of traffic that its more popular neighbor Cowles Mountain does. The crowds weren’t overwhelming, but there was a … Cowles Mountain is a very popular hike in Southern California. Head west on Navajo Road for approximately 2 miles, then turn right onto Golfcrest Drive. Through out this 3-mile hike, we saw 50+ hikers also enjoying this Sand Diego hiking trail. Distance: 5.2 miles. They wind through the woods seemingly never going in a straight line for more than a few … If the parking lot is full, find a spot on … We hiked the trail on a hot Friday afternoon in July. At 1.3 miles we reached the summit marker. Many of these trails were created for and by mountain bikers but the park also attracts hikers, trail runners and dog walkers.The singletracks are amazing. 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. San Die…, CA. this trail (only one i've done) had a nice variety of terrain...so it didn't get monotonous at all. Entering Cowles off of Barker Way is a very different experience than the popularized route. casually walking...it took under an hour to reach the top. The trail head is on the left. About 300 paces along the service road look on your left for the Barker Way/Cowles Mtn. From hwy 125 - Exit at Navajo Road. Mission Trails Regional Park Status. Helix in the foreground, and San Miguel Mountain. At last the switchbacks came to an end, and we had just a short rocky traverse to the summit. Although, don’t let the thought of hiking the tallest mountain in the city intimidate you, because the mountain itself is … ... Stone Mountain Trail 3.0 mi 4.9 km • 173' Up 52.77 m Up • 173' Down 52.68 m Down. Turn West onto Navajo Road. Cowles Park in East Grandy offers well over 15 miles of easy to difficult trails. Starting somewhat near sea-level, Cowles Mountain via the Big Rock Trail climbs about 1000 ft in elevation. Difficult. I know the title makes this seem like some great feat, but Cowles Mountain is only around 1,600 feet tall, so it is not incredibly challenging. Weather forecast for the Cowles Mountain Hike: © Copyright 2013-2019. © 1996-2020 New England Mountain Bike Association. This is a short out and back trail that features incredible views of the surrounding local San Diego mountains including Mount Woodson, Iron Mountain, Black Mountain, and the peaks in Cleveland National Forest.Cowles Mountain … At 1,593 feet, this mountain resembles more of a coastal peak than … Lake Murray lay to the southwest, with San Diego Bay beyond. Elevation Gain: 1400 feet . As is usual on Cowles, we encountered numerous other hikers and trail runners on the way. Turn right on Navajo Road and continue 2.7 miles east to Cowles Mountain Boulevard, and turn left. Turn right on Navajo Road and continue 2.7 miles east to Cowles Mountain Boulevard, … Time to complete: 25-45 minutes one way / 1 hour or more round trip. Getting There: For the South Approach – exit interstate 8 at College Ave., go north for 1 mile. It’s easily accessible, provides a great workout, and as the highest point within the City of San Diego, offers some fantastic views. If the parking lot is full, find a spot on … ), Directions: We wound our way up the switchbacks, enjoying the views as we climbed. The trail is quite impacted by people as well as dogs. We headed left and soon came to the base of the final set of switchbacks. Cowles Mountain and all connector trails to and from Cowles Mountain and Pyles Peak are now open. Visit BringFido for an overview of the trail, along with pictures, directions, and reviews from dog owners who’ve been there. trailhead sign. Even if you are in moderately decent shape, you should be able to do this hike. Due east was Lyon’s Peak, Tecate Peak, Mt. The entire mountain, with marked trails, is a protected area within Mission Trails Regional Park, which opened in 1972. Coweles Mountain Trail Guide via Big Rock Park If you’re ever done any type of hiking in San Diego County, you’ve undoubetedly heard of Cowles Mountain. Some were running, most were walking, and a lot of them brought their furry friends along on leashes. We were able to do this hike at an off-peak time (mid-day on a Friday) and found that while still crowded, it was actually pretty tolerable. Drive 0.4 miles to Big Rock Park and park your car along the road near the Big Rock Trail Head.. … The well marked and clear trail will wind back around Cowles Mountain to the Barker Way Trailhead, rejoining the service road 100 yards from the street where you parked. Turn right at Cowles Mountain Blvd. We soon began a series of switchbacks up the mountainside. At 1,592ft, Cowles Mountain is the highest peak in the city of San Diego. Google Map links: Big Rock TH Mesa Parking Barker TH The views atop Cowles Mountain are probably the best to be had within the City of San Diego. (If you get lost in a real sense, your sense of direction needs some work, as you are bounded by major roads, a major river, a huge powerline cut and plenty of marked trails.) The Cowles Mountain hike brings you to the highest point in San Diego at 1,593ft, with views from Mexico to Orange County. The most popular trail of the park is the Cowles Mountain trail (pronounced Colz), which takes hundreds of people per day to the summit for a 360-degree panorama of San Diego County. The small parking lot on Golfcrest Avenue has bathrooms with running water and drinking fountains. Cowles Mountain is also one of the most popular hikes in San Diego, so I’ve routed this hike up the less trafficked and more scenic “back way” up the mountain. The smooth dirt quickly transitioned into rockier terrain. Check out some of our favorite hiking guides for San Diego County: Cowles Mountain via Barker Way (Mission Trails Regional Park), Kwaay Paay Peak (Mission Trails Regional Park), This Week in San Diego Hiking – February 11, 2019, This Week in San Diego Hiking – February 4, 2019, This Week in San Diego Hiking – January 28, 2019, This Week in San Diego Hiking – January 14, 2019, This Week in San Diego Hiking – January 7, 2019, Bathroom and drinking fountain at trailhead. Getting There: For the East Approach – exit interstate 8 at College Ave., go north for 1 mile. Cowles Mountain is probably the most popular hiking destination in San Diego, and of the several possible routes to the peak, the trail starting at Golfcrest and Navajo is by far the most heavily used (check out our write-ups of alternate starting points Big Rock Park and Barker Way).This is not the hike to do if you are looking for some … Park close to the gated, unpaved service road heading up the east slope of Cowles Mountain. You won’t get lost in any real sense, but you will get confused. Before setting out at Cowles Park, whether on foot or on mountain bike, just know that you will take a wrong turn somewhere. Looking down the front side of Cowles Mountain, Printable Map:http://www.mtrp.org/trail_map/trail_map.asp, South Approach Distance:1.5 miles 1-way;  3 miles up/ back : Elevation Gain:950 feet: Time to complete: 25-45 minutes one way / 1 hour or more round trip, East Approach Distance: 1.5 miles 1-way;  3 miles up/ back: Elevation Gain: 1000 feet. We set off up the trail, which began to ascend immediately up the chaparral covered hillside. The hike to the summit of Cowles is possibly the most popular hiking route in all of San Diego County, which makes an early start a requirement for weekend outings. Turn left at Boulder Lake Avenue. From Highway 125, take the Navajo Road exit. Downloading of trail gps tracks in kml & gpx formats is enabled for Cowles Mountain. A small wooden footbridge and some wooden steps aided the ascent. Cowles Park Mountain Bike, Hike, Trail Running trails near East Granby, Connecticut. Around .8 miles a trail leading towards Barker Way, one of several alternative starting points for Cowles Mountain, branched off on the right. Flora & Fauna Rattlesnakes are frequently spotted on the trail in the spring. Cowles Mountain is a popular dog friendly hike in San Diego. Cowles Mountain is located in Mission Trails Regional Park in the north part of San Diego and is easily one of the most popular trails in the city. Video Time Lapse from the top of Cowles Mountain: Cowles Mountain Time Lapse from Brad Spiess on Vimeo. Cowles Mountain is a favorite hike among the locals as it provides a variety of beautiful scenery that leads to an amazing payoff at the top. http://www.mtrp.org/trail_map/trail_map.asp. After exploring the summit, you can head back down the way you came, or as we chose, continue on to Pyle’s Peak (write-up coming next week! Cowles Mtn RECOMMENDED ROUTE. This makes it a great alternative for hikers looking for a quick mountain climbing workout but who don’t want to contend with…. The City of San Diego, along with Mission Trails staff and volunteers, do a tremendous job of maintaining the trail. Hiking to the nearby Pyles Peak is far less popular, and… The parking area will be almost immediately on your right. Proceed 0.5 miles to Boulder Lake Ave., and make a left to reach Barker Way. We wandered around the peak a bit, enjoying the views. Cowles Mountain is part of Mission Trails Regional Park, which stretches over 7,000 acres and is the largest urban park in Southern California. But despite the crowds, this is still a really beautiful hike with some of the best views within the city limits. The trail is considered moderate, although, the … Cowles Mountain is the tallest mountain in all of San Diego cities limits and it is also located within Mission Trails Regional Park. This trail is about 5 miles total, out and back. Parking issues aside, it makes for a good place to meet friends for a little exercise and camaraderie. 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