Hike Mount Woodson & Potato Chip Rock
San Diego › Mount Woodson Trailhead
Added by Dane
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.
- Hiking / running shoes
- Leash (if you bring your dog)
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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!
Popular Photo Op Place
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.
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.
My favorite hike for training
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.
Nice hike, but crowded
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!
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.
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