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Cowles Mtn. Backside

Average Rating:    (4.33 of 5)

No. of Reviews: 3

This is the other way up Cowles Mtn. This ride will test your uphill climbing skills as well as your downhill chops. This is NOT a trail for beginners or those out of shape. The ascension includes 77 waterbars you''ll have to jump/ride over, as well as 2 small rock gardens and 1200 feet elevation gain. The descent is also loaded with waterbars, a few rock gardens and one nice stair step section. Lots of switchbacks, so you have to watch your speed. WARNING - you can do serious damage to yourself and your bike on this trail if you don''t have the chops. This is probably the closest you can get to riding a Nobel Canyon style trail without going to Nobel Canyon. There are hikers that use this trail as well, and most of them are cool with bikers, but watch out for the ocassional overly-friendly dog. Ride it at sunrise and you''ll probably have the whole single track section to yourself. 75% of the trail is single track, but the upper portion is on the fire road mentioned in the other Cowles Mtn. review. Make it to the summit of Cowles, and give yourself a pat on the back. Clean the whole thing without any dabs, and you''ll be among the select few. The ride down will make all the climbing worth it. The greatest thing about this trail is that in a short distance you''ll be able to work on your chops for most of the technical trails in San Diego county. Ride up to build your strength, and ride down to hone your technique. Once you park: -Ride up the road (not the trail)..it will turn to gravel. Continue around the gate up the fire road. You''ll see an MTRP sign and trail on your right. This is NOT the trail. -In about 300-500 feet, look on your right for where the trail starts between the trees. It''s easy to miss. This is where you drop in and start the single rack. - The trail starts off with a small drop-in, crosses a very small stream and then heads up. Settle into a good cadence and enjoy the waterbars. - At about a mile, you''ll come to a "T" in the trail. You''ll be turning left (uphill).If you turn right, you can head back to your starting point. We''ll end up on this trail on the descent. -Continue uphill over more waterbars for .7 miles. -Turn right on Cowels fire road and continue to the summit. Make sure you get a good feel for where the trail splits off the road, as it''s easy to miss when you''re bombing back downhill. -See the other Cowels Mtn. review for details on this last section to the sunnit. -Descent is opposite of ascent, except stay left at the "T". -After the "T", the trail gets really fun. Lots of waterbar drops, rocks and switchbacks. You''ll come to a steep rock garden, make a sharp hard left turn and drop over a series of big waterbar steps. - Near the bottom, you''ll encounter 2 trails that will head left. Stay right and keep heading downhill. -You''ll end up right back at your car. Round trip should be around 5.6 miles.
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Latitude
32.829800749361496
Longitude
-117.0178484916687
Trail Directions
-Take Mission Gorge in Santee to Mesa. -Turn west (the only way you can) on Mesa. -Go about .4 miles to the stop sign. -Park on the right just after the stop sign, under the eucalyptus trees. There's a chain-link fence and park on your right. Just in front of you on the right is where the ride will end. Remember to set your odometer to zero as you head out.
Trail Length
5.6 Miles
Trail Level
Intermediate
Trail Type
Singletrack & Fire Roads
City/County
Santee
Country
USA
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Reviews 1 - 3 (3 Reviews Total)

Review Date
October 30, 2011

Overall Rating
 4 of 5

Aerobic Difficulty
 5 of 5

Technical Difficulty
 4 of 5

Ridden Trail:
Every few months

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5.00 of 5, 1.00 votes

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Reviewed by: Allrotor13b ,  Downhiller

Summary:
Fun. Fun if you are into very technical climbs. This is among the most difficult in the county, i think. There are a load of water bars which only slow you down, but there is also a staircase that utterly stops you in your tracks. The middle section has a few rocks, but nothing too gnarly. The upper section is a semi-burmed downhill course. The very top is the fire road to the top of Cowles, which is the steepest access road i have tried (though i am certain the one up the Fortuna Saddle in Mission Trails is steeper).
The ride back down is very good. If you go all the way, the ride down from the peak on the acces road is SUPER hairy. Loose dg and abundant deep ruts can really wreck you. When you get back on the north trail, the ride becomes very agreeable and smile-inducing. i recommend fatter tires, at the very least up front.
Go early to avoid hikers. They can really slow you up on the uphill and wreck your rhythm, and you might not be in a good position to slow up on the downhill.

Recommended Route:
Big Rock park entrance.

Other recommended trails in the same area:
Iron Mountain



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Review Date
November 10, 2006

Overall Rating
 5 of 5

Aerobic Difficulty
 4 of 5

Technical Difficulty
 4 of 5

Ridden Trail:
Ridden Once

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5.00 of 5, 1.00 votes

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Reviewed by: no_skillz ,  Weekend Warrior

Summary:
Absolutely merciless climb with no respite until the top. Tricks you with a few 5-10m long false flats leading into railroad ties and short rock gardens - catch a breath here and your momentum is utterly trashed. Most difficult I have encountered (compared to ATT), but not so difficult that it is discouraging. All of the technical points in this ride seem to be on the way up, picking your line is absolutely key unless you are superhuman. Nothing that is unclearable, but a steady diet of legitimately diffcult obstacles to keep you out of rhythm and constantly reevaluating your line, gear and cadence. Traction is not an issue as the soil is soft enough and without thick gravel. I really enjoyed this climb because it isn't something I could just power up. There are decisions to make around every switchback and they are different enough from each other that it keeps the ride fresh. Also, it is 15 minutes from my house.

The fire road at the end is waaaaaaaaaay steeper than it looks, my front tire actually came up on this section. First time that has ever happened on a fire road.

I have to say that the way down was just lazy as descents go, or my handles are just that good. Probably the former. There is no one big legendary steep or rutted or narrow or loose section on the way up or down. Descending is just an excercise in vigilance and staying back over your seat - automatic if you keep your head up.

Hikers were very friendly.

If you can stick this without dabbing you have my hardwon respect. If you can SS it without dabbing mad mad props.
Aerobic 4 - 5+ for the way up, 0 for the way down.
Technical 4 - 4.5 for the ascent, 3 for the descent

Recommended Route:
Mountainbikebill website has an awesome route.

Other recommended trails in the same area:
ATT - easier climb, but really fun and much easier.



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Review Date
March 16, 2006

Overall Rating
 4 of 5

Aerobic Difficulty
 4 of 5

Technical Difficulty
 3 of 5

Ridden Trail:
Once a month

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5.00 of 5, 1.00 votes

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Reviewed by: amotodawg ,  Weekend Warrior

Summary:
Anyway you go, this trail is a workout and not for the faint of heart. If you ride up the Cowles Mtn. access road it is steep with lots of loose gravel. If you ride up the backside it is not as steep but the waterbars (railroad ties) make for formidable obstacles. In any case it is a fun challenging trail for intermediates and above. If you only have time for an end of the workday ride it is great because you get a good ride in a short timeframe.

Recommended Route:
You can start from Mesa in Santee for an up and down on the same trail,from Barker in San Carlos for an up on the access road, down the backside and back up.........or you can loop it with a couple of miles of road.



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Reviews 1 - 3 (3 Reviews Total)