By far, Cowles Mtn. (pronounced Coals) with its outstanding views at 1,591 above sea level, is arguably the most popular (and populated) trail in San Diego County. This for many reasons: With its 933' vertical ascent, it has become a fitness playground for the very, very young to the very, very old. Its popularity is regularly substantiated by the high number of hikers/joggers/runners on the trail at any time. On weekends, during the period 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset, upwards of 800 discoverers of Cowles Mountain have been counted while enjoying this difficult and scenic hike.
People problems are rare here, making it a favorite of single moms and others who embrace safety in numbers. Unlike so many local (and regional) trails theres a sort of comradship here where nearly everyone says hi and each looks out for the other.
Because of the trails fairly consistent rate of altitude gain, hikers who have made a commitment to health and fitness a priority, have found that even a slow beginning walk to the first switchback and back is a start bringing a great feeling of accomplishment with it. Some use the mile markers to slowly increase their distance on a regular basis with the very realistic goal of someday touching the plaque on the rock at the top!
Its also a favorite of families, especially those with young children in introducing them to hiking. Its rare that youll hike Cowles Mountain trail without seeing children with their favorite adults - some in backpack carriers, some running and many huffing and puffing. But most gratifying are the huge smiles on all involved!