Hiking Mount Woodson's East Approach
San Diego › Mount Woodson Trailhead via Fire Access Road
Added by Jason Neitzke
- The famous "Potato Chip rock" from the East approach
- Distance: 4 miles round trip
- Duration: 2-3 hours
- Amazing views and night sky photography
- No permit required
Mount Woodson is a well know hiking trail in San Diego County. It is know for its breath taking views and the famous potato chip rock. The Trail on the east side of the Mountain is fairly steep but is about half the distance of the trail on the west side of the mountain. To get to the trail on the east side of the mountain, from Poway Road turn left onto highway 67 and head north until you reach the Mount Woodson fire station. Park in the pullout on the west side of the highway, where you will most likely see other cars. From there you will take the trail along the side of the road. Follow the trail for about 5 minutes until it turns into a paved road, which is fairly smooth. You will then be on the old fire road and starting your way up the mountain.
On your way up the trail there are huge boulders on both sides of the road where you can watch people rock climb. As you keep going farther up, the boulders get larger and the road gets steeper. There are plenty of spots on the way up where you can take a break and enjoy views of Poway and Ramona. Once you have reached the top of the mountain, you will see a field of antennas. Stay on the road and walk past the antennas, after that the road will turn back into a dirt trail and you will be going back down hill. Follow this trail for about a minute until it starts to level out, and you will then be at potato chip rock and overlooking Poway. There are other trails you can take from this spot and explore that have some awesome rock formations. Overall, the Mount Woodson old fire road is a great trail if you are low on time, want an amazing view and do not mind a little leg burn.
- Lots of water
- Hiking or running shoes
- Weather appropriate clothing
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The hike is along a unimproved road more or less to the top. Good for a burst of endurance hill run. However, there are crowds of people that hike from this side making much less desirable then it used to be. Parking can be dangerous as well along the busy 67.
It's steep... both ways!
I'm a frequent visitor to Woodson, but until about a week ago I had yet to give the east route a try. I arrived on the summit early enough this time that I thought I could make it down and back up the east side quick enough to beat the heat. It was a serious challenge, but I did manage to beat the heat. The views are amazing and offer a completely different perspective of Iron Mountain. You also get an unobstructed view of the mountains to the east, views that are difficult to get from the summit. Not for the feint of hear, regardless of the approach you choose, but if you're training for endurance, do the out-and-back loop from one end to the other. You'll end up with a 12.5 mile quad busting round trip hike that will put just about anything else in the city of San Diego to shame.
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