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Mount Woodson and Potato Chip Rock

Poway, California

4.6/5
based on 13 reviews

Details

Distance

6.45 miles

Elevation Gain

900 ft

Route Type

Out-and-Back

Description

Added by Dane

Hike to the famous "Potato Chip" Rock formation along the Mt. Woodson Trail and enjoy 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.

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Features

Photography
Hiking
Bathrooms
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Food Nearby
Groups
Lake
Scenic

Reviews

Mount Woodson is a beautiful escape right outside the city. Check out the maps and be sure you know where you're going, if you branch off to find climbing routes it is easy to get turned around. Get out early to beat the heat and the crowds!

If you go the back route, it’s a steep paved road with twists and turns that make the hike challenging and rewarding. It’s also only 2.0 miles up to Potato Chip Rock which makes it a short, but fun morning hike. Recommended to hike as the sun is rising because this trail can get very crowded during the day.

The description is great, but the elevation gain from Lake Poway to the top of Mt Woodson is 1,800 feet (not 900). The elevation gain from the east side (Ramona CalFire station) is 1,200 feet. Great rock climbing (boulders) on the east side. Unlike the west side, the east side is a paved access road. Same overall steepness on both sides. Want a good challenge? Start on the east side, go to the top and down the west side to the Lake Poway Loop trail. Then turn around and go back. 9.5 miles and a total of 3,000 feet up and down. Leave a second car at Lake Poway if you want the option of ending your hike at Lake Poway.

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.

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!

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!

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.

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

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.

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.

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Nearby

Relax at Lake Poway

Hike the Blue Sky Ecological Reserve

Catch a Sunset at Twin Peaks Mountain

Iron Mountain Trail

Hiking Mount Woodson's East Approach

Hike to Battle Mountain's Cross