Pyles Peak (Mission Trails Regional Park)

Pyles Peak

While just about everyone has hiked Cowles Mountain, surprisingly few bother to continue on to Pyles Peak, the second highest peak in Mission Trails. Pyles Peak can only be accessed by first summiting Cowles then traveling another another 1.5 miles northwest. You’ll quickly leave the constant stream of hikers and trail runners behind on this trek and likely have the beautiful views all to yourself.

While you can use any of the multiple trailheads for Cowles to begin your journey to Pyles Peak, we had started at the popular Golfcrest and Navajo staging area, so all of our mileage references are based on that as the starting point for this hike (read the Cowles Mountain write-up here).

After enjoying the scenery atop Cowles, we headed down to the fire road on the west side of the peak to find the start of the Pyle’s Peak trail.20151120_DSC9107-EditPylesPeak

We were only a few hundred feet from the peak of Cowles Mountain, but we had already escaped the crowds. The trail began to descend through the chaparral mountainside.20151120_DSC9111-EditPylesPeak

We descended to a saddle around 1.85 miles and began gently ascending again.20151120_DSC9128-EditPylesPeak

Looking back gave us a great angle on Cowles that you don’t normally see.20151120_DSC9129-EditPylesPeak

At 2.15 miles there was a branch to the right for a View Point.20151120_DSC9135-EditPylesPeak

We turned right to make the small detour to see the view point. We climbed uphill for about .1 mile and came to a small fenced off area. We didn’t really find the views here to be any better than what we’d been seeing along the trail, but that might be because the surrounding brush was getting pretty tall.20151120_DSC9138-EditPylesPeak

We rejoined the main trail at 2.3 miles and turned right to continue our way to the peak. We had only seen one person – a lone trail runner – since we’d left Cowles. It was downright peaceful as we traveled on.20151120_DSC9142-EditPylesPeak

At 2.75 miles the trail turned right to ascend the peak.20151120_DSC9156-EditPylesPeak

To the left was another small overlook offering yet another opportunity to enjoy the views.20151120_DSC9153-EditPylesPeak

We pressed on up the final ascent. When we had first done this trail many years ago, it was pretty sketchy and rather difficult to follow. But now it was well-marked and we quickly made our way up the steep mountainside.20151120_DSC9161-EditPylesPeak

At 3 miles we reached the summit, and sat down to enjoy the quiet peak we had all to ourselves.20151120DSC_5205CowelsPyles

To the northeast we could see El Cajon Mountain and Cuyamaca Peak.20151120_DSC9170-EditPylesPeak

To the northwest were the remaining peaks of Mission Trails: Kwaay Paay, South Fortuna, and North Fortuna.20151120_DSC9166-EditPylesPeak

After enjoying the views and the serenity, we headed back the way we had come.

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From Highway 125, take the Navajo Road exit. Head west on Navajo Road for approximately 2 miles, then turn right onto Golfcrest Drive. The parking area will be almost immediately on your right. The parking area will almost definitely be full, so park along the street where you can, making sure not to block anyone’s driveway. map

Total Distance: 5.9 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Total Ascent: 1862 feet
Dog Friendly?: Leashed dogs allowed
Bike Friendly?: Bikes not allowed
Facilities: Bathroom and drinking fountain at trailhead
Fees/Permits: None

For more information, visit:
Mission Trails Regional Park
View Trail Map
View route or download GPX in CalTopo

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