Cowles Mountain / Pyles Peak trail photo
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Level: Advanced
Length: 9 mi (14.5 km)
Surface: Singletrack
Configuration: Out & Back
Elevation: +700/ -690 ft
Total: 27 riders

Mountain Biking Cowles Mountain / Pyles Peak

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#332 of 1,004 mountain bike trails in California
#4,249 in the world

Part of Mission Trails Regional Park, this climb is disconnected from the heavily trafficked main trail system and deserves an entry of its own.

Listed on the MTRP site as the highest point within San Diego City limits, the view from the top is quite spectacular.

The trails are mostly singletrack, however the bike route from Barker all the way to the 1st peak is an emergency access road (truck trail). From the other trailheads, the beginning is singletrack until the trails intersect the access road for the remainder of the climb. Past the 1st peak, the singletrack resumes to the end of the bike accessible trail. The trail does continue beyond the viewpoint at the end of the bike trail to the top of Pyles Peak, however traffic on this section is foot only.

Terrain is steep and rough in spots. Waterbars (planks across the trail) and other obstacles abound - bring your climbing and hopping legs.

This area is "conditionally open" to MTB per the posted signs and information at the kiosks at trailheads. There are many side trails that are foot-only. Please observe the well-marked off limits areas, and bring your best shared trail behavior.

First added by Xerien on Feb 24, 2009. Last updated Apr 28, 2020. → add an update
Before you go
  • Drinking water: unknown
  • Lift service: unknown
  • Night riding: unknown
  • Pump track: unknown
  • Restrooms: unknown
  • Fat bike grooming: unknown
  • E-bikes allowed: unknown
  • Fee required: unknown
This trail information is user-generated. Help improve this information by suggesting a correction.
Getting there
Mesa Road or Big Rock Road trailheads:
From hwy52/125, exit at Mission Gorge road. Proceed East to either Big Rock Road, or Mesa Road. Trailheads are well marked and visible from the roads.

Barker Way trailhead:
From hwy 125 - Exit at Navajo Road. Turn West onto Navajo Road. Turn right at Cowles Mountain Blvd. Turn left at Boulder Lake Avenue. Turn right onto Barker Way. The trail head is on the left. Parking is limited at this location.

Google Map links:
Big Rock TH
Mesa Parking
Barker TH

Cowles Mountain / Pyles Peak Trail map

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Local Info

Trail checkins

Kevin Brewster (on Oct 12, 2019)
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Trail conditions

(on Mar 19, 2019)
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