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10 Reasons You Should Be Hiking Cowles Mountain in San Diego


Cowles Mountain is a natural landmark in the San Carlos area of San Diego, California. It stands within the Mission Trails Regional Park, and i is a popular spot for locals and an attraction for tourists. Most people who visit the mountain do so to enjoy the hiking trails, although many are happy to simply view the beauty of the mountain from its base. In the past, this mountain was called ‘S’ mountain because some students painted a large ‘S’ on its side in 1931. The painting tradition ended during World War II for security reasons. It then made a brief resurgence before being banned again for environmental reasons. Now you will see the mountain back to its natural beauty if you visit. If you are looking for activities to enjoy during a stay in San Diego, then here are 10 reasons why you should hike Cowles Mountain.

1. Enjoy the Outdoors

Although San Diego is an amazing city with lots of things to see and do, sometimes it is nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Cowles Mountain is a wonderful place to get away from urban life and to simply enjoy the great outdoors. It is a picturesque place where you can enjoy the fresh air and the peaceful atmosphere. It is one of the best places to see beyond the perimeters of the city.

2. Get Some Exercise

If you need to burn off some energy and get some exercise, then Cowles Mountain hiking trail is a good option. The hike is a 2.9-mile there and back hike that is classed as a moderate trail that covers an uneven dirt track. As the first half of the hike is all uphill, it should give you a decent workout. On the return journey, the downhill stroll is a little more leisurely.

3. Bragging Rights

If you climb Cowles Mountain, then you have bragging rights to claim that you have climbed the tallest mountain in San Diego. However, this is not quite the amazing feat that it sounds. Although it is the tallest mountain in San Diego, its peak is only around 1,600-feet above sea level, says California Through My Lenses. Still, it sounds a pretty impressive claim to make.

4. For All the Family

The hiking trail at Cowles Mountain is an activity that all the family can enjoy, regardless of their age. Although half of the climb is uphill, it is not too challenging. Therefore, people of all abilities can attempt this hiking trail. The terrain is not too difficult, although the dirt track is a little uneven. Even young children can manage this walk, and it will give them a chance to run around and release some unspent energy.

5. Admire the Natural Surroundings

One of the best features of this stunning natural landmark is the wildlife. The mountainsides are covered in grassy areas and pretty wildflowers and the landscape is ever-changing throughout the year. You can also enjoy a variety of wildlife, including butterflies, insects, small reptiles, and birds. If you have children with you, you can play an educational game of spotting and identifying different flowers and wildlife.

6. Enjoy the Views

Throughout your hike up Cowles Mountain, you can enjoy views over San Diego, the surrounding area, and the Pacific Ocean. However, the most spectacular panoramic views are when you reach the summit of Cowles Mountain. There, you can enjoy stunning views from every angle. You can see many points of interest from the summit. These include Lake Murray, Silver Strand, Downtown San Diego, and Cabrillo National Monument and point Lomas. If you do not know the area, you may find it difficult to identify these landmarks. However, there is a useful information point at the summit with a photograph of the view with the landmarks labeled. This gives you a better idea of what is included in the view you are admiring.

7. See Mexican Islands Along the Skyline

On a clear day, you can even see across to parts of Mexico. There are very few spots in the United States where you can claim to see another country across the ocean. The parts of Mexico that you can see is the Los Coronados Islands and Tijuana. If you are having trouble identifying the islands and Tijuana along the skyline, then you can use the useful guide at the summit to help you identify these sections of your view. If you have taken your binoculars along, this is the ideal time to use them to enjoy a better view.

8. A Free Activity

If you are visiting San Diego on a limited budget, then you need to pack your itinerary full of free activities. Hiking Cowles Mountain is completely free, so this is a great activity to add to your itinerary. This activity will only take a morning or an afternoon, so it is not a free activity that will fill a full day. However, you can extend the activity by taking along a picnic to eat when you have completed the hike.

9. Go Bird Watching

For nature lovers, one of the best activities you can enjoy as part of your hike is bird watching. There are several points along the trail that are perfect for taking a break from the hike and getting out your binoculars. These include two plateaus on the south and east side of the mountain that are formed from natural erosion and are now perfect bird watching platforms.

10. Meet New People

The Cowles Mountain hiking trail is an extremely popular attraction for both locals and tourists alike. Therefore, when you visit the mountain, you will meet lots of people who share your passion for the outdoors. Therefore, this is a good activity for lone travelers to enjoy as it will give them the chance to socialize with like-minded people.

Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

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