Trip Planner:   USA  /  California  /  San Diego  /  Nature  /  Cowles Mountain

Cowles Mountain, San Diego

(45 reviews on the web)
Mountain
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.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 three decades.Mission Trails Regional ParkThe entire mountain, with marked trails, is a protected area within Mission Trails Regional Park, which opened in 1972.TrailsThe main trail to the summit is a popular hiking destination taking hundreds of people per day to a 360-degree panorama of San Diego County. The hike to the top is long and an elevation change of about. This trail is on the corner of Golfcrest Drive and Navajo Road. A much-less-used but maintained trail begins near the intersection of Boulder Lake Avenue and Barker way. This trail meets the main trail near the summit.
Plan your visit to Cowles Mountain and a wealth of other attractions, well-known and undiscovered, using our San Diego trip builder.
Source
Create a full San Diego itinerary
map

Plan your trip to San Diego

  • Get a personalized plan

    A complete day-by-day itinerary
    based on your preferences
  • Customize it

    Refine your plan. We'll find the
    best routes and schedules
  • Book it

    Choose from the best hotels
    and activities. Up to 50% off
  • Manage it

    Everything in one place.
    Everyone on the same page.

Plans in San Diego by other users

2 days in San Diego BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES June, culture, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, historic sites, popular PREFERENCES: June, culture, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, historic sites ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 2 days in San Diego BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES June, popular PREFERENCES: June ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 15 days in United States BY A USER FROM UNITED ARAB EMIRATES June, kids, culture, relaxing, romantic, beaches, historic sites, museums, shopping, popular PREFERENCES: June, kids, culture, relaxing, romantic, beaches, historic sites, museums, shopping ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 2 days in San Diego BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES June, fast-paced, popular PREFERENCES: June ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Fast-paced 2 days in San Diego BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES June, popular PREFERENCES: June ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 2 days in San Diego BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES June, culture, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, historic sites, popular PREFERENCES: June, culture, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, historic sites ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 3 days in San Diego BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES June, popular PREFERENCES: June ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 6 days in San Diego & Las Vegas BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES June, culture, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, beaches, historic sites, museums, shopping, hidden gems PREFERENCES: June, culture, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, beaches, historic sites, museums, shopping ATTRACTION STYLE: Hidden gems PACE: Medium 22 days in West Coast BY A USER FROM UNITED KINGDOM July, popular PREFERENCES: July ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 22 days in West Coast BY A USER FROM UNITED KINGDOM July, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, popular PREFERENCES: July, outdoors, relaxing, beaches ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 5 days in San Diego BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES May, kids, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, museums, popular PREFERENCES: May, kids, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, museums ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 5 days in San Diego & Los Angeles BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES July, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, historic sites, shopping, fast-paced, popular PREFERENCES: July, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, historic sites, shopping ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Fast-paced
View more plans
Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • Bathroom facilities at the base with running water. Lots of tourists, children, and dogs on the trail. Well maintained. Definitely not a hike for enjoying solitude in nature, but if you're in the mood...  more »
  • Decided to hike Cowles Mountain this morning. After reading a few reviews I decided to hike the eastern side which is much less crowded. The entrance was on Barker Way and there are two paths you can ...  more »
  • Have been wanting to hit the trails in San Diego for a while, and this was a great way to start! Cowles Mountain trail is about 1.5 miles of uphill, moderately strenuous hiking. Even if you are in mod...  more »