Hike Mount Woodson & Potato Chip Rock

Mount Woodson Trailhead

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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RT Distance 7.5 Miles
Elevation Gain 900 Feet
Activities Photography, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Spring, Autumn, Winter
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Bathrooms
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Food Nearby
Groups
Lake
Scenic

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Stair Stepper.

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.

I Love Potato Chips

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!

Keep Going!

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!


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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