Hike to Cowles Mountain via Big Rock Trail

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In the iconic deserts of Southern California, summit a peak that lets you overlook all of San Diego, to the ocean, to Mexico.

Starting somewhat near sea-level, Cowles Mountain via the Big Rock Trail climbs about 1000 ft in elevation.  This trail is about 5 miles total, out and back.  Arrive at Big Rock park which has good parking.  At the park you will walk to the left of the tennis courts past the limits (the fence) of the park and turn right where you will see a wooden figure with papers on it.  The trail head sign is right there (see pictures).  The first 1.5 miles of the trail is on a strenuous incline complete with dust,  and not much shade.  The trail is however well kept and easy to follow.  There are trail markers every now and then that tell you that you're on the right trail and how much farther you have to go.  After this stretch of trail you'll reach a service road that leads to the top of Cowles Mountain.  This last mile of the hike is not rocky but there is not shade and the last .5 miles is steep to the summit.  I mean very steep.  But getting to the summit is rewarding with the view so don't give up!!  

We did this hike a little after Christmas and it was HOT.  But we're a bunch of Utah boys and girls so we were use to the freezing cold.  Some people had sweaters and long pants on (crazy in my opinion).  It is a dog friendly trail (but is littered with poop so do your part and clean up after your doggo).  

Pack List

  • Hiking shoes
  • Plenty of water
  • Food
  • Camera
  • Hiking poles would be a good thing
  • Hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Sun glasses
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RT Distance 5 Miles
Elevation Gain 1000 Feet
Activities Chillin, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Year Round
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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