The Cowles Mountain hike brings you to the highest point in San Diego, with views from Mexico to Orange County. It's a tough little climb, and there are a few routes to the top. This hiking route is the most scenic, has the best parking situation, and the least crowds. It's a great, safe beginners hike, and a must-do if you're in San Diego.
Cowles Mountain is the highest point in San Diego at 1,592 feet. The hike steep, but not technical. The summit has 360 degree views of San Diego, Orange County, and the surrounding mountains.
Cowles is pronounced ‘coals’.
The Cowles Mountain hike is in Mission Trails Regional Park, the largest municipally owned park in Southern California (7th largest in the USA) at nearly 7,000 acres. They have a full trail map if you’d like to explore more of the park.
Parking is on the street and free. It’s a residential neighborhood, so please respect people’s property. As the day goes on, the parking fills up.
Turn by Turn Directions
An easy way to give back is to simply pick up any trash you see on the trail.
A quick note. These directions are meant as a guide for the hike, and not a definitive source. Conditions change, and the information here can be different based on time of day, weather, season, etc. There can be small side trails that you might see but I missed. I have made every effort to include all the information you need to complete the hike successfully. I recommend using this guide in conjunction with a map, GPX file, common sense, and call to the ranger station or park office. If you do the hike and notice something has changed, please contact me and I will update the guide.