Your session expired, please sign in again to continue.

Potato Chip Rock via Mt. Woodson Trail

HARD 2,345 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
2,132 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

birding

camping

hiking

mountain biking

nature trips

trail running

lake

views

wildlife

scramble

no shade

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 day ago

Very nice hike. Trail is well maintained and not too difficult. We started at about 6:15 am and it was still too crowded for my liking, but the scenery is beautiful and it is a good work out. If you go beyond the Potato Chip rock there are great boulders to relax on and enjoy some solitude!

Awesome trial! My husband & I never hiked & decided let’s try it. Wow did it kick our butts. We also started at 1300 on a 100 degree day (don’t do that). It took us 3hours round trip. Beautiful views. Definitely wish it had more signs on how far to go. We brought 2-40oz hydroflasks, & a gallon of water + don’t forget some protein or PB&J’s! Overall amazing!

hiking
11 days ago

It was one of the hottest forecast days of the year and we got off to a bit of a late start (7:30 ish) - we realized this when, on our way up, we noted lots of hikers already on their way down. What ever you do BRING LOTS OF WATER. Lots means a couple liters NOT one small bottle of Crystal Geyser! I can not tell you how many people we passed that were on their way to heat stroke. Shared our extra water with a few who were out far from the trail head! Bring extra water! (always a good idea anyway)
It's a well marked path, starting with a dirt road for the first mile or so, then up to singletrack through and up the rocks, with rock steps on some of the rockier sections. There is shade to be found. We were early enough that some of the brush provided a great place to just get out of the sun for a moment or two when catching your breath. Although it's a popular hike, we never felt crowded on the trail and never hit any traffic jams - perhaps because of the area high heat warnings. But there were a reasonable amount of people there. It's a nice UP and back Down hike, meaning it's easier to push yourself a bit harder at first knowing that it will be easier going down. The first mile or so had several porta potties and trash bins along the route and the trail was really clean. Not sure if it's like this all the time but perhaps they stepped it up for the July 4 weekend crowds. Really great local hike with easy parking, beautiful views away from the suburban sprawl and cool shaded grassy spots to crash in when you get back down to your car! Would recommend and would definitely do again.

hiking
13 days ago

hiking
15 days ago

The trail begins at the back of the parking lot. It is very well maintained and I saw a few dedicated men picking up trash on the trail and at the top. The trail starts to get harder the last two miles. That is where the rock steps begin; however, it's not as difficult as other hikes that I have been on. I was at the gate at 6:00 am when it opened on a weekday and I had the rock to myself for a while at the top. I saw lots of people coming up the trail as I descended. The views are very scenic going up and at the top.

hiking
15 days ago

Definitely a difficult hike, especially on a hot day. (It got up to 105 when I went). Be sure to bring lots of water as there is little shade, but the view at the top is worth the climb and the hike back down is pretty easy. Just make sure from the lake Powell parking lot you take the trail to your right and not your left or you will add on an extra mile each way like I did on my hike up by accident.

15 days ago

A great workout. Big inclines and the trail is well marked. It was totally worth it for the great views and of course pics on the rock.

19 days ago

Quite a hike for a first timer like me but was a good exercise. Nice view.

21 days ago

Dope!! I looove this place!! Very challenging but rewarding once u get to d top n see the potato chip rock.... amazing!! I was able to do in 3 hrs didnt stop n kind of jog here and there on my way back. Hiked all by myself n had a blast!! Will def do it again maybe in nov wen its not too hot !

hiking
22 days ago

Hot day bring lots of water, did training hike with backpack made it challenging and a good workout. Jogging down easier than walking due to steep. Went on a Friday morning around 7:30 no crowd at all

24 days ago

Steep

25 days ago

Trails are wide and forgiving. Couple spots with shade next to large rocks just in case it gets too hot.

26 days ago

Hard but worth it.

hiking
28 days ago

It's a long and hard hike, totally worth it!

30 days ago

Definitely underestimated the “hard” rating because of how popular this hike is- don’t do that. We enjoyed the hike a lot but it is indeed very hard, steep, uphill, and very hot. Be sure to have 3-4 liters of water per person as it will take you three to four hours in high heat.

The great news is as you get higher there are tons of shady nooks to dive into to rest. Just watch for rattlers.

hiking
1 month ago

Very nice trail and an awesome view! If possible, go on a weekday. There will be way less people. Make sure to bring enough water as it gets hot fast. Happy Hiking!

hiking
1 month ago

A great workout with a view!

hiking
1 month ago

Fun trail!

hiking
1 month ago

Great trail especially in cloudy conditions.

1 month ago

Probably my favorite hike

hiking
1 month ago

1 month ago

Bring water and good company! The hike was long, but enjoyable

1 month ago

The Mt Woodson trail is a steady uphill and is very easy to follow. There are markers along the trail and at forks to guide you. There is a bit of a wait to take pictures on the potato chip rock, but the wait is mostly due to hikers trying to climb on and off the rock. Be sure to bring lots of water, some snacks, and really good shoes because it can get slippery especially climbing up the chip.

Great hike not sure I’d wait to take that pic at the top but lots of fun!

Great views and a good workout. There was a 1/4 long line for a photo op on Potato Chip Rock.
Don Mateo.

hiking
1 month ago

Great hike! I recommend taking lots of fluid with you for your hike. On hot days a gallon of water per person is required to get on the trail. Trail is well groomed. We hiked mid-week and didn't have to wait to take pictures on Potato Chip Rock. My Fitbit clocked the hike at 8.4 miles starting from the Lake Poway parking lot and back... that included the walking around at the top of the mountain of course.

hiking
1 month ago

Amaizing place to hike, stunning views and fresh air. But dont forget to bring ur own water

hiking
1 month ago

Great, heavily traveled trail. Beware, it’s pretty much a steady uphill climb is you go the short 4 mile route. 4 stars because no bathroom anywhere near the trail and there are almost no signs, you pretty much have to follow everyone else. Oh and the line to take a picture on the rock is long, plan on standing around for 20-30 mins before you get a chance to take a picture; something to think about as it gets hotter.

hiking
1 month ago

Love this hike. I entered through the lake Poway entrance today but prefer the iron mountain entrance! Brought some dried mango and apple sauce for a little sugar at the top! :)

hiking
1 month ago

A beautiful trail to the "chip". A little scary getting out in the ledge and looking down into the valley. Very crowded on a weekday early in the morning. Can't imagine a weekend wait to get to the site. Well worth the climb

Load More