I know the title makes this seem like some great feat, but Cowles mountain is only around 1,600 feet tall. Anyways, hiking Cowles Mountain in San Diego is a great way to spend a couple of hours. The hike provides an excellent workout, lots of plants, and possibly wildlife and a fantastic vista of the city of San Diego. In that regard, I recommend it highly if you live in the area or are just visiting.
Below is a little information on the mountain.
“Cowles Mountain is a prominent mountain within the city limits of San Diego, California and also within Mission Trails Regional Park. The mountain is named after George A. Cowles, an early ranching pioneer in San Diego County. Its 1,593-foot summit is the highest point in the city of San Diego. The main trail to the summit is a popular hiking destination taking hundreds of people per day to a breathtaking 360-degree panorama of San Diego County. The round trip hike is around 3 miles long and an elevation change of about 950 feet.”
The first thing you have to deal with on this hike is the parking. The parking lot itself is tiny, and it fills up quickly. When we were there on a Friday at around 11 AM, it was completely full, and there was a line of cars parked down the street side. There is a lot of street parking though, so as long as you are cool with adding distance to your hike, you can generally find somewhere to park. There are also bathrooms at the base of the hike that seem to be well kept up. During the hike we passed at least 40 people, so this hike is very popular.
The hike itself follows a worn dirt path that is well kept up and starts to climb from the very beginning. Since the hike is 900 feet in elevation in 1.5 miles, it does climb steadily the entire time. It is not hard though if you pace yourself and take your time. Also, if it is hot, make sure you bring plenty of water as there is relatively no escape from the sun.
The trail can be a little misleading at times as it looks like many people have made their own way as the trail often splits into 3 or 4 traveled paths. Don’t worry though, as all paths seem to lead to the same place. As you continue the climb, the views get better and better until topping out at the summit. It took us about 45 minutes to make it up.
The summit itself does not let down either. It provides beautiful vistas in every direction. You can see downtown San Diego, Cabrillo National Monument, and even Tijuana on a clear day. There is also a unique summit plaque that many people were taking pictures at and on the other side of the mountain, some antennas and a small building. You will want to spend some time up here to look around if it is your first time, so plan accordingly. Just the fact that you can see another country from the top of this hike makes it something not many hikes in the US can boast about.
After hanging out at the summit, we headed back down. The whole trip only took about an hour and a half, and that was with a lot of time spent looking around at the top. The hike is a good work out, and I would recommend it to almost anyone, the summit views will make you glad that you did. Let me know if you have climbed this mountain and liked it as much as me.