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Cowles Mountain, San Diego

4.3
#8 of 11 in Nature in San Diego
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.
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Cowles Mountain Reviews
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52 reviews
TripAdvisor
  • September 20, 2017
    We took hike up the mountain. it can be quite steep if you are a hiking beginner. You can get all the way up to the top and the views are breathtaking! even on the way down!  more »
  • September 10, 2017
    Really enjoyed afternoon walk up Cowles Mountain. I left from Mount Cowles Road end, along trails onto dirt road towards summit. Good views of Santee and suburbs surrounded by mountains. Not many peop...  more »
  • August 1, 2017
    We went during the week which was nice for both parking and crowds on the trail. There are bathrooms at the beginning of the hike. Trail condition good and easy to follow. This is a dusty trail with n...  more »

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