Potato Chip Rock via Mt. Woodson Trail

HARD 2,457 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)

7 days ago

Did this hike in October with fall temperatures. The rating of hard I believe depends on what time of year you go and what the temperature outside is. For us we started at around 9 am and the weather was perfect. On our way back around noon it was definitely hotter and more strenuous. Bring lots of water and snacks. Very well maintained hike! The rock requires you to make a somewhat questionable jump from one rock to another. Once you do it it’s not so bad. You have to lower yourself with your arms and get your footing on the potato chip rock. To get down I slid down the side of the rock. Overall great hike!

7 days ago

This was a great hike.
Only advice is....be in good cardio shape for this hike, or it will kick your butt!

hiking
15 days ago

Excellent choice for beginners, be prepared with a lot of water, crowded in the morning

trail running
22 days ago

Great avenue for trail runners and hikers itching for a workout with a sip of Lactic Acid (moderate trail not Hard). In the summer of course it will feel hard (little to no shade). I loved the inclines, the switch backs are fun as they have cleverly constructed steps from surrounding rocks (beautifully done), a trail that keeps you guessing what’s next, and the routs are easy to navigate.
Nice rest areas, great scenic views, and surprisingly they have conveniently set out several bathroom areas. No matter if a beginner or avid hardcore runner you can find it here. If only looking for a relaxing picnic with friends and family they have a nice lake, fishing, boats, lots of grass and trees. While they “rest and eat” come with me and we will run up to eat some potato chips @2100ft. (Start from the Lake don’t cheat, take plenty of water, and enjoy Poway!)

hiking
24 days ago

This is a great hike with amazing views along the way. The thrill is when you get to the top and see the potato chip. As a bit of advice, do this one early to stay out of the heat but most importantly to be the crowds. We started at 8:00 from the parking lot and we went got to the top there was only a handful of people there. Within 1/2 hours there were at least 100 people and the lineups were getting longer and longer.

hiking
26 days ago

I’m giving this 4 stars only because it was soooo crowded when I went. So my advice to you, don’t go during the weekend!! There was literally a long line to take a picture on the damn potato chip rock. And people take foreverrrrrr since there trying to get that perfect Instagram worthy pic, or their new tinder profile pic. Who knows, i didn’t stand in it. Overall the hike is great, def bring plenty of water if your going during the summer. Great workout, there is plenty of shady spots if you get too tired and need to rest.

hiking
30 days ago

Beautiful views the whole way up. Park your car at lake Poway. $10 parking fee on the weekend. They open at 6:00. I started at 6:30 and it was already pretty busy. The trail is very well maintained and marked. Moderate hike.

1 month ago

Great! Food and gallon of water very important. Beautiful view.

1 month ago

Make sure to go early if you’re doing this as a summer hike, as the trail has little to no shade most of the way. Bring more water than expected if you do leave early in the day. Very high incline for most of the hike and switchbacks until about 3/4 of the way through.

1 month ago

Awesome!!

1 month ago

just did it yesterday. beautiful hike started 0700. all incline. scary jump needed to reach the chip rock. got help from a nice man. worth the photo op. going off the rock 2 options: 1. go back the way u jumped but requires help from people who could lift u. 2. go down to right. requires treks on shoes midway just slide down while laying down.

Nice hike but can be over crowded. The earlier you go the better.

hiking
1 month ago

1 month ago

Love this trail! It can get a little crowded but if you go early in the morning or later in the afternoon you’re usually okay. Also there’s no shade so bring plenty of water!! Both my dogs have made it all the way up and back, it’s a great workout!

hiking
1 month ago

Nice hike, but can get very crowded. I have done this hike twice, both on weekdays mornings with a 7:30 start time. No line at the rock either time. By the time we started back down there were quite a few people on the trail. It's basically uphill all the way to the top but worth it for that cool photo. It's definitely not a casual stroll, so be prepared for a workout.

1 month ago

Good work out on a consistent uphill slope all the way to the top. Coming down is tough on knees and toes. But , it is all worth it! Good view and yes, the special Potato Chip rock!

1 month ago

amazing hard hike

2 months ago

For a continuous moderately paced hike, you can make it up to the summit in 1 hour. If you start right before 7 the mountain will shade you up until the last mile of the hike. Between 2- 1 1/2 mile point from the summit there seems to be an endless set of steps that are pretty challenging. Past the potato chip rock there is not much else and a radio station that ruins part of the view, but overall a decent hike.

2 months ago

Awesome trail, friendly people along the way just enough incline to get a good workout

2 months ago

Did on a hot day. Bring a lot of water! worth it for the fun potato chip rock pictures!

trail running
2 months ago

This hike makes you work for it. One hour up & 30 minutes down. I started before the sun and there were plenty of other friendly folks on the trail.

2 months ago

hiking
2 months ago

A challenging hike with beautiful views!!! The potato chip rock at the peak was indeed very instagram worthy..

hiking
2 months ago

Great workout

hiking
2 months ago

DEFINITELY read these reviews before taking this hike!!!! It is worth it once you get to the top but getting there can be challenging especially in July when I went!!! Bring lots of water, hat, shades, and wear light clothing. Enjoy the workout!!!!

hiking
2 months ago

Loved this trail when I hiked it the first time. Unfortunately, I went at 7am and the trail was closed due to excessive heat. :(

hiking
2 months ago

This is an amazing hike but NOT FOR THE SUMMER! I went with a group of 6 including myself and we left way too late. Should note it was the end of July at 10am. Moderate hike but the sun is what killed us. Legit almost thought I was going to pass out. If you go during the summer don't bring your dog, and bring a crap ton of water!

2 months ago

Awesome! Worth it when you get to the top

2 months ago

Extremely hot, and no shade at all. Wait for half an hour for the potato-chip photo. Good workout but too hot.

hiking
2 months ago

Great hike but it’s rated hard for a reason. I am an avid hiker and it was challenging. If you are looking for a less strenuous hike, start in Ramona. On a positive note, it is BEAUTIFUL & a great workout.

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