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Cowles Mountain, San Diego

Categories: Mountains, Nature & Parks
Inspirock Rating:
4.3/5 based on 35+ 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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  • My husband and I hiked this mountain two weeks ago. It was strenuous but not unbearable to point you want to quit. We stopped for water breaks on the way up and enjoyed the views along the way. At the...  read more »
  • Pro tip: if you want to avoid a never-ending stream of tourists, go up the east side. It's a bit steeper, but far less crowded. You're welcome... It is the highest point in San Diego. It's a moderatel...  read more »
  • This mountain is part of the Mission Trails Regional Park system and is a very popular work-out hike for locals. Although the trail can get busy, it is a great place for an exercise excursion that doe...  read more »
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