Hike Mount Woodson & Potato Chip Rock

San Diego Mount Woodson Trailhead

  • Activities:

    Photography, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Intermediate

  • Season:

    Spring, Autumn, Winter

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    7.5 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    900 Feet

Bathrooms
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Food Nearby
Groups
Lake
Scenic

This can take anywhere from 4-6 hrs. depending on how much you rest/ take photos. Visit the famous "potato chip" rock formation with amazing views of all of San Diego.

Mt. Woodson is located in Poway's most eastern region and is one of San Diego's most popular and most iconic hiking trails. Known for its grand photo opportunistic "Potato Chip Rock", Mt. Woodson is a 7.5mi out-and-back trail with amazing vistas, convenient rest stops and breathtaking views.

The trailhead begins at Poway Lake & Park (open 6:00am-5:00pm) and the parking fee is $5.00 to enter. The park is extremely clean with picnic tables, shady trees, restrooms and an adequate amount of parking spaces. From the parking lot to the top is roughly 1 hour and 30 minutes.The hike begins near the south east side of the park on a wide flat dirt trail horseshoeing east around the lake. For the first half of the hike you will find portable restrooms and trash cans every 1/4 mi which are great for families or tossing doggy bags.

The climb begins around mile 1.5, where there are rigid, steep switchbacks consistently until the halfway point. The reason I love this trail is for its physical challenges! There are signs posted along the trail, making it very easy to follow. Once you make it to the top, enjoy the famous Potato Chip Rock and its incredible views.

I would like to note that weekends can get pretty crowded, which leads to a line forming to see the rock. I recommend coming on a weekday where you can expect to see 5-10 people total.

Pack List

  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Sunscreen
  • Hiking / running shoes
  • Camera
  • Leash (if you bring your dog)
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Reviews

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This trail is a killer workout. You'll feel good after this one. Definitely bring water. The rocks look pretty cool at the top of the mountain.

9 months ago
9 months ago

Great hike. Bring water and snacks. Take your time and enjoy the views. Be prepared to wait in line once you reach the potato chip rock. Well worth the effort!

about 1 year ago
about 1 year ago

When I hiked to the Potato Chip ROCK, as I accidentally kept calling Potato Chip Mountain, I was confused as you had to pass through what seemed like an electricity plant. There were not many people when I went either so there was no one to ask. I finally asked one of the plant workers and he said I was going the right direction. You actually do have to walk through the plant! So if you see electricity towers and think you're going the wrong way... you're not! Keep going!

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

I think this is the first time i've actually seen a line to get a picture taken in all of the hikes i've done in my life. Lol! But it sure is a great place to take the perfect "adventurous photo"! I suggest going here really early to beat the lines, and exploring other places once you've reached the top. There are lots of boulders to climb, and scenic views to take in.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

Mt Woodson offers a great workout with beautiful views. One can park on the frwy side to hike at night - great views!

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

I did this as a sunrise hike. The sun was coming up at 6:30am that day, and we weren't able to get into the park until around 5:45 (it officially opens at 6am). Needless to say, we had to move quickly. We just missed the official sunrise, but we reached he summit at around 6:45 and still had a pretty awesome morning view. It's definitely more difficult than most people will lead you to believe, as I've seen a lot of out of shape friends pose on the famous rock. If you're going specifically for the rock, it's a bit underwhelming, in my opinion.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

I love the hike to Woodson's Summit. One of the toughest hikes in the city, and also one of the most rewarding. I've been hiking Woodson since 2009 and have yet to have my picture taken on the chip. I'd rather slip past the crowds and shoot pics from the real summit a couple of hundred yards further up the hill.

almost 2 years ago
almost 2 years ago

If you're here to get that "Lion King" shot you've seen on instagram, maybe consider going during the week. Be prepared to hike through throngs of people and wait in line to get a picture on the rock during the weekends. For a more interesting experience, you can do this hike for a full moon!

almost 2 years ago
almost 2 years ago

There's an awesome park and lake right by the trailhead, so pack a cooler and sandwiches and enjoy them after the hike

about 2 years ago
about 2 years ago

Not going to lie...this is a pretty difficult hike! You will sweat, maybe fall, & will definitely start to crave potato chips. Go on a weekday because you won't want to wait in a 45-minute line just to get up on the potato chip rock.

about 2 years ago
about 2 years ago

Go on a weekday!

almost 3 years ago
almost 3 years ago

Are we missing something? Suggest an edit

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