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Cowles Mountain, San Diego

(4.4/5 based on 40+ reviews on the web)
Cowles Mountain is a prominent mountain located in the San Carlos neighborhood, within the City of San Diego, San Diego County, California. The 1,593ft summit is the highest point of the city of San Diego.It is protected within Mission Trails Regional Park. While many people pronounce "Cowles" to rhyme with "towels," the pronunciation of the name should be like "Coals" as this is how George Cowles's family was known.HistoryThe mountain is named after George A. Cowles, a 1870s-80s rancher and early businessperson in southwestern San Diego County.San Diego State UniversityFor many years Cowles Mountain was locally known as "S" Mountain. In 1931, 500 students from San Diego State University (SDSU) painted a 400ft letter "S" on the side of the mountain, after which it took on its popular name. In April 1942, during World War II, the local military ordered the S covered up for the sake of national security. After the war the painting tradition was resurrected.In the 1970s, the annual repainting tradition was ceased for environmental and habitat protection, but suffered a brief resurgence in the late 1980s. The "S" has not been repainted for nearly two decades.Mission Trails Regional ParkThe entire mountain, with marked trails, is a protected area within Mission Trails Regional Park, which opened in 1972.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • Ok, this is definitely a moderate/advanced hike. It was very fun and a great challenge! The hike takes about 2-3 hours round trip. Tons of locals run the route so be careful as they seem to like havin...  more »
  • Cowled mountain was an amazing hike. We started out at about 400ft from la Mesa . Parking is mostly off street but not too stressful. Water fountain and restrooms are only at the park entrance so make...  more »
  • Did this trail that is quick and takes you to the highest of San Diego near the winter. It was cold, but nothing beyond what you can bear, made up of shirt. For those who like to track, it's worth it!
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