Potato Chip Rock via Mt. Woodson Trail

HARD 2,194 reviews
#1 of 3 trails in

Potato Chip Rock via Mt. Woodson Trail is a 6.9 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Poway, California that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
6.9 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
2132 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

birding

camping

hiking

mountain biking

trail running

walking

lake

views

wildlife

scramble

One of the most popular trails for photo ops and scenic views of the Pacific Ocean, this steep and narrow hike up to Potato Chip Rock and Mount Woodson summit is a must-do for locals and visitors alike. Located in northern San Diego county, the Mount Woodson trailhead starts at the end of Lake Poway Road at Lake Poway and offers hikers, climbers and trail runners a challenging trail up to the famous potato chip boulder and Mount Woodson Summit. This is a great place for a good workout and training for long hikes and runs. This is a very exposed trail so please bring plenty of water and sunscreen. Lake Poway PARKING IS FREE during the week- (weekends and holidays it's $10.00 for non- Poway residents)

hiking
1 hour ago

Very fun hike! The descend is a bit rough on the knees, so if you have those issues, prepare accordingly. It was packed when we got to the top, and we had to wait about 45 min just for a picture. So readers, be courteous and don’t have a 22 minute photo shoot with wardrobe changes. Took about 3 hours of total hike time (not including the pictures at the top). Worth it & would definitely do it again!

hiking
6 days ago

Very nice view. 3h with making pictures

mountain biking
7 days ago

Greeeeeat workout...
Nature is my home, nice place to be alone or with friends.
Book, walk, run, music, meditate, your choice
JUST DO IT. Go outside. ¡Explore!

7 days ago

First in line at gate when they opened. Opened prompt at 0600. Did not care for $10.00 parking fee, but rules are rules..Hike was great..the switchback at 1.5 mile to 2 mile was most difficult..then smooth sailing to top. Have to wait your turn for pic, and always run into a few that want to pose for unusual amount of pics, delaying others...oh well..return down is great..mostly all downhill...hiking sticks are great for this course...overall..really enjoyed, will return again

hiking
9 days ago

we've chosen a shaded way from the east side beginning at romona fire station in the afternoon. steep but flat concrete road to hike up, the most important, so much shade becuz of the shadow of the mountain! no parking lot, people kept parking on shoulder but no tickets. everything's good. less trafficked from east side but crowded at the chip rock waiting area, we have to wait in line.

hiking
9 days ago

The views are worth it when it’s clear. Go early in the morning or towards the evening to avoid the crowds.

hiking
11 days ago

Great hike, but I find it unfair that we had to wait in line for an hour to get a picture, when most people hiked only one mile to get to the top.

hiking
11 days ago

Very fun hike, but we had to wait in line for an hour or so just to get a photo. There is an easier way up, but I wouldn't recommend it, though I find it unfair that we had to wait for a bunch of people who hiked one mile to take a picture when I hiked three to get there.

hiking
12 days ago

Good hike! Great view!

hiking
14 days ago

I really enjoyed the trail! I’m an avid hiker and I must say it’s not the “hardest of hard” trailhead. What makes the hike appear hard is the heat! There are pockets of shade found on the sides of the trail and alongside big rocks. I encourage you to start early so that by the time you finish when the sun is blazing you won’t even care! I’m thankful that although it was hot there was a lovely breeze throughout the hike that made it bearable. Dry heat would have SUCKED! Ohhh, the line to take pictures was super long. Some people will stay on it for 10 minutes taking every type of pose with 15 people waiting in line to go up. That was probably the only downfall...lack of consideration. All in all I’d definitely go back and start even earlier! I started at 8:15am (but really should have started at 6am-7am) It took me exactly 2 hours and 56 minutes.

14 days ago

Very challenging hike but there are plenty places to pause and enjoy unobstructed views. The views are breathtaking and the grounds of the trail are very well maintained!

hiking
14 days ago

Great quick hike, it took about two hours going up and one going down enjoying the views and taking photos.

19 days ago

A bit out my comfort zone but was definitely worth it.

Great hike

26 days ago

awesome hike! I started at 645am. made it up in just under 2 hours. I went on a Monday morning, and had the rock to myself for 20 minutes before someone else came up. Going down I passed tons of people, so definitely get there early if you don't want to wait. The whole thing took 3 1/2 hours, and was definitely a workout. Can't wait to do it again! I brought 3L of water, and drank about 2.5

27 days ago

Excellent trail and very beautiful hike.

hiking
1 month ago

Beautiful hike

hiking
1 month ago

Worth the climb! Amazing views from every angle! Great workout!

hiking
1 month ago

The boys (husky mixes) and I finally made this hike today. Gorgeous views & rock formations; I took so many photos of the boys standing on the rocks and looking off into the distance.
I average 3-5 miles daily with some elevation on run days and I really felt like this was a challenging hike; we took about 3 hours including breaks for water & photos and a long walk back to the first parking lot. Next time, I’ll park much closer to the trailhead. I couldn’t believe the number of people we encountered running this trail! I also was amazed at the number of kids doing this hike!
I brought 4 liters of water and we went through most of it- though I’m pretty sure I leaked as my pack & back were soaked when we reached the top. Thankfully, I had 2 separate bladders and the second was full for our trip down. Had just enough at the end to fill the boys’ bowls one last time and the stinkers didn’t even want it!
We started at 7:45 and managed to have much shade up until probably the last mile or so on the way down. We did not see any snakes, but the boys found a few lizards.
There were enough people that I felt safe as a solo female but, surprisingly, not near as many people I expected having read about this hike online. We did not stop for a chip photo, as we were solo. Like others, we saw some drones up at the top and heard an occasional speaker.
We didn’t come across any aggressive or unleashed dogs.
We found people we encountered to be polite, if not downright friendly. The boys got a few pets & ear scratches from new friends. We tried really hard to give way in narrow spots and others did the same.
We’ll definitely be back.

1 month ago

Amazing trail and great workout!

mountain biking
1 month ago

Excellent workout!...
Afraid of snakes but worth the hike. I will come back with friends, perfect place to meditate and relax.
This is where I realize that I must workout harder to be in shape " GOOD HEALTH ".
Enjoy life!......

hiking
1 month ago

Great location and fun hike.

hiking
1 month ago

Good trail & perfect Apring temps yesterday. We did see a rattles Abe crossing the trail, so keep an eye out.
4/08/18

hiking
1 month ago

Good trail; perfect Spring temps yesterday. We did see a rattle snake crossing the trail, so keep an eye out.
4/08/18

1 month ago

Needed to wait in line for a pic on the rock

1 month ago

Great trail run for uphill and downhill. Approx 2 hrs if you bypass the line up top to take a photo.

hiking
1 month ago

A good workout for the day. The views are great but teenagers ruin it with loud music all the way to the top. Even at the top there was a small crowd (50+) waiting in line to climb on the rock. Still, the battle for whose loud music to overcome the other. 10am on top was not early enough.

1 month ago

Great hike. Really enjoyed these steeper climb toward the end. Lots dogs and lots of people. Recommend if you don’t mind a lot of traffic.

hiking
1 month ago

Really fun hike and shockingly not that crowded on a Saturday. From Poway lake to Potato chip rock it was 2.5 hours, just under 7 miles round trip. I would say a moderate hike but have hiking shoes and plenty of water. One crazy thing we saw was people with drones at the top. One guy on the potato chip rock had drone taking pictures of himself for about 10 minutes while other people were waiting in line! How about this- get on the potato chip rock take picture like a normal person and walk away?!

1 month ago

great endurance hike

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