Hike or Run at Cowles Mountain
San Diego, CA 92119
Area: San Diego, CA
Located about 8 miles northeast of downtown, this 1,592 summit is a convenient and popular hiking destination. In addition to the heart pumping, a fabulous view of the city is your reward. Consider packing a beverage and making the trek in the early evening to enjoy the sunset.
There are several paths to the top, with the moderate southern trail being the busiest. You'll likely encounter kids, dogs and trail runners. For those looking for more challenge, take the northwest approach from Big Rock Park. It's shorter but but more difficult. You can always go up one route and head back down via another.
The round-trip mileage will range from 3-5 miles. Need more help? There's a Visitor's Center with maps.
Directions to Southern Trail: From Interstate 8 - Take 8 to the College Avenue exit. Proceed north on College Avenue 1.0 miles to Navajo Road. Turn right and proceed on Navajo Road 1.9 miles to Golfcrest Drive. Turn left on Golfcrest Drive to enter parking lot.
Directions to Barker Way Trail: 8 East to the College Avenue exit. Turn left onto College Avenue. Head down College Avenue 1.0 miles to Navajo Road. Turn right onto Navajo Road and proceed 2.6 miles to Cowles Mountain Blvd, turn left. Proceed down Cowles Mountain Blvd. 0.5 miles to Boulder Lake Avenue and turn left to the dead end. Turn right on Barker Way. The trail head is approximately 75 yards down the road on the left. Entrance is at a low gate. This is a residential area, so parking is limited.
When you reach the gate: walk down the dirt path 200 yards or so. There are two trails, Barker Way Trail comes up first on the left, Barker Service Road is about 50 yards down on the right. For a nice family hike, we recommend the one on the left. 1.5 miles, climbs about 900 or so feet. It connects with the front side trail at about the one mile mark. (It's well-marked).