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Cowles Mountain, San Diego

4.4
#7 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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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.0
57 reviews
Google
4.4
TripAdvisor
  • Park at Big Rock park in Santee and hike up the back. Steep, longer, but less crowded. Lots of stairs and rocks at the start, but a really beautiful hike:)  more »
  • Our family hiked this area during Christmas. Lots of hikers, the trail is moderate in difficulty. At the peaks of each trails, some beautiful views of areas. I would suggest to bring lots of water, ho...  more »
  • Very good hike for how close it is to San Diego. Hiked it on Saturday morning. Showed up at the trail head for 0900. Parking lot packed and hundreds of people on various parts of the trail. Declined t...  more »
Google
  • Great little escape to view city and surrounding and get some fresh air
  • Awesome hike...beautiful views.....go on a foggy morning and check out the view....
  • A great hike for beginners; plenty of nice spots to take pictures and enjoy the views of San Diego. Would recommend a early or evening hike to get away from heat especially during the summers and as always bring plenty of H20!
  • Easy. Recommended for beginners but also experts who wants an easy run up and back down. It wasn't as busy before now really popular.
  • It's a great workout and once you reach the top there's an amazing view

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