Thursday, November 6, 2014

Cowles Mountain Hike in San Diego…

To follow up on our urban hike in downtown San Diego we thought we would revisit a hike we took a little over two years ago, the Cowles Mountain hike. This hike is raved about for its 360-degree view of San Diego.

We took the 20 minute drive inland until we found the trailhead parking lot for Cowles Mountain. The parking lot itself is pretty small and fills up quickly so when we arrived fortunately we were able to park along the street. Donning our sun screen and packing plenty of water we headed to the trailhead and began the hike up…

“Cowles Mountain is a prominent mountain within the city limits of San Diego, California and also within Mission Trails Regional Park. The mountain is named after George A. Cowles, an early ranching pioneer in San Diego County. Its 1,593-foot summit is the highest point in the city of San Diego. The main trail to the summit is a popular hiking destination taking hundreds of people per day to a breathtaking 360-degree panorama of San Diego County.“

The hike is on a very worn and wide trail with lots of rock and loose gravel/sand making footing a bit tricky at times. The hike up is less than 1.4 miles but gains nearly 1000 feet in elevation making for a very steadily climb the entire time.  There are lots of sharp switchbacks and this slow and steady winding climb takes about 45 minutes to finally reach the top. The hike itself is not real hard but makes for a very good cardio workout. In fact there are many who run up and down this trail simply for the workout.

The vegetation on the hillsides is showing the effects of the long and severe drought this area has endured in recent times. Very little greenery is evident and it appears as though most of the shrubs have been decimated from this very long drought. The area is very ripe for a fire in its current condition. However this hike is not for seeing plants as it is all about the views at the top and all along the way up. Hikers need to bring plenty of water as there is no escaping from the sun as there is no shade on the entire route…

Once we summited we read the informative signs on top that pointed out such things as the  Cuyamaca Mountains to our east, Tijuana to our south, the Pacific Ocean to our west and the names of many of the peaks seen from the summit. We could see almost everything on this very clear and sunny day. There is also a summit sign that the runners all seem to feel compelled to touch before turning back down the mountain as if they didn’t really make it to the top without touching the plaque.

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At the top of Cowles Mountain there are plenty of places to sit down and enjoy the 360-degree views or to have a snack or lunch. With these great views it is easy to kill another half an hour just taking it all in. After a while we headed back down and were cautious with our footing to make sure to not slip on the loose gravel and sand. The whole trip took us about an hour and a half and was quite a nice way to get in both a hike as well as a good workout. We enjoyed this hike as much as we did the first time.

On our way back home we stopped for happy hour at Guava Beach Bar and Grill in Mission Beach that we read had a good selection of craft beer on tap at 50% off from 4 to 7 pm.  Although parking was a bit of a challenge we eventually found a spot.  I had an Ballast IPA and Sharon a Milk Stout and we thought both of these were very tasty! With their big screen TV's , vintage rock and roll music along with a great beach vibe we were glad we stopped by and will likely visit again some day soon…

11 comments:

  1. Not being much for cities, we've never been to San Diego with Winnona. Thanks for showing us around. It's my favorite way to see urban hiking!

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    1. Being a wildlife biologist doesn't keep me from loving good architecture and interesting city history...

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  2. I love when there are informative signs at the top of a mountain. I like this one a ton.

    Sounds like you found yourself a new happy hour venue.

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  3. We really want to do that hike the next time we are in San Diego!

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  4. Thanks for the info on this trail. We'll definitely have climb up to see the view:)

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  5. Ballast Point has their brewery right in town. Nice bar, I Don't know if they do tours. South Beach Bar and Grill on Newport in OB has the best fish tacos and a bunch of draught beers.

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    1. love the Ballast Point Sculpin IPA... yummy!

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  6. Another fun day ending with Happy hour=perfect.

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  7. We were going to Winter in San Diego this season, but need to go back to the Midwest and Grandparent for awhile. Hope to get there sometime in the future.

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    1. too bad it would have been great to reconnect...

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