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Potato Chip Rock via Mt. Woodson Trail

HARD 1716 reviews
#1 of 3 trails in

Potato Chip Rock via Mt. Woodson Trail is a 7.6 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Poway, California that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and mountain biking and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
7.6 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
2,106 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

hiking

mountain biking

nature trips

walking

lake

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

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)

1 day ago

great hike for training, use this trail to get used to climbing. terrific view at the top. Gets very crowded, hike it in the morning!

2 days ago

it was steep and long, but it was worth the fun

hiking
2 days ago

Hike was more of a moderate climb to me. Not real tough and awesome views. Was a lot more difficult getting on to potato chip rock than anticipated. Very enjoyable hike ! Be careful climbing onto the chip

6 days ago

Instagram junk. This is a solid hike, but the Instagram crowd at the "summit" is insufferable, taking up to 5 minutes per "session" of glamor shots and other nonsense monopolizing the potato chip. All Instagram photos conveniently omit the eyesore cell phone towers just a few yards away.

hiking
no shade
rocky
7 days ago

I have done this hike a few other times, today I was feeling luckily and hiked it twice in one day. I know I’ll regret it for the next few days, but it felt rewarding today

hiking
rocky
10 days ago

hiking
10 days ago

Excelente trail with gorgeous views. The infamous potato chip rock is an amazing sight and worth the hike and wait
For your turn to take pictures.

hiking
rocky
14 days ago

hiking
rocky
14 days ago

Great trail.

hiking
rocky
14 days ago

Had a blast doing this trail! We got to the trail head around 745 and was greeted by an empty parking lot! I assume this was the case because it was daylight savings the previous night so there weren't nearly the amount of people I expected. This trail is not for the faint of heart, it's a pretty steady incline the entire way with rock stair during the second half of the trail. The views are nice and the Potato Chip Rock itself is pretty awesome to be on! There also wasn't a line for photo ops so that was awesome. Logged just under 4 hours and 2,180 ft of elevation gain. We will definitely be back for more trails in this area as we live in OC :)

hiking
15 days ago

Started around 6:30am so it is not too crowded. Good hike, but not so nice view compared to other hiking sites in San Diego. The only highlight here is the potato chip rock which is popular site for taking photos, other than that it is just a regular hiking site. Good thing we arrived early so there are no long queue just to take a photo.

23 days ago

This is an overcrowded and overrated trail in my opinion. I stay away because there are so many better options in San Diego county.

hiking
26 days ago

Super worth it! Just keep in mind that the majority of the hike is uphill to get to the Chip rock. If you're not used to walking uphill for a couple of miles this hike might be a tough one for you.Make sure you bring plenty of water. Now some people here have said that it gets very crowded but it all depends on what day you go. We went on a tuesday afternoon and it was not crowded at all. So just plan ahead. Definitely a good hike.

28 days ago

2/23. Trail was dry and weather was ideal. A bit crowded with dogs everywhere. Please use a leash and clean up. My first time up. Views from the top are worth the climb. Hard is probably accurate due to continuous grade, but no scrambling and nothing dangerous. Heavily trafficked, wide trail. A great afternoon with old friends!

hiking
28 days ago

Pro:
1. Paved From this start point
2. Views are awesome
3. Hard but doable
4. Areas to stop and take a break and eat
5. Pet friendly ( But leave them at home or at least
pick up their shit)
6. Has plenty of areas to scramble, some tight spaces if you go off the path so do not get stuck alone.

Co:
1. Crowded from this start point
2. Parking on side of road could be hazardous
3. Pets Leave your dogs at home ( Or keep them on leash
4. No porta potties
5. Crowded at chip, but what do you expect

Come prepared to hike, plenty of water and dressed for the occasion. This not a "'lets go to the mall then hike or hike first then mall". Wear proper shoes and clothing or you will suffer all the way up and down.

hiking
no shade
rocky
28 days ago

Not sure why this one was rated so hard. It will get you breathing but certainly not that difficult, saw many young children on this hike! Great view of Poway area, and the popular potato hip rock of course. Lots of lookout points. Gets very busy after 10am. I went at 8am and almost no one was up there.

hiking
1 month ago

Fun to go with friends. Sad I’m not close otherwise I will hike on the regular basis. I love the trail, it has amazing views and rock formations, it reminded me of Joshua Tree for a little bit! It’s an easy trail to follow. I hiked it from the lake and from the other side of the lake. I would like to hike this trail from the lake because of the elevation. Super fun.
Very busy trail on weekends.

hiking
1 month ago

Went fairly early on President's Day and it wasn't as crowded as I thought it would be. Heading up the mountain is fairly tough; I needed a few breaks to catch my breath and my thighs were burrrrning on the stairs part. But the views are incredible and the rock is a fun experience - you'll have to wait in line for pictures and kind of rock-hop your way over the the photo spot.

Wear layers; it gets hot when you're huffing your way up, but freeeezing once you're up at the top. Bring plenty of water too!

We took our small terrier and he did great!

hiking
1 month ago

Great experience great views.

hiking
1 month ago

This hike was my first solo hiking trip and an introduction to much longer hikes than 4-5 miles. I chose to hike this in early morning on a summer day and it was absolutely hot. Definitely bring enough water on hot days. By the time I reached the top there was a long line of people trying to take a picture of the potato chip rock... I didn’t want to wait to long so I just got a picture by it, not on it. I still did it and I was proud! Taking a picture at the top looked like fun, but I went during the weekend, so maybe try during the week days- no holidays, otherwise you’ll get a crowd.

hiking
1 month ago

So I brought friends, who were visiting from out of town, here and it was an experience. I thought it would be a 15 min hike up lol definitely not realistically it took us for 40 or so minutes. It was a hell of an exercise!! I would do it again. My friends weren’t impressed with potato chip rocks itself but the mountains view is awesome! I love the chip rock and view! I would do it again!

hiking
no shade
rocky
1 month ago

Great trail to start the day. Weather was cloudy with some wind and light rain. A lot of people transit the trail. I would recommend to do it when not snowing but in winter months. definitelly will come back again, loved it. Only missed the geosite mark on the top, so if anyone knows were is it, would appreciate it for next time i go up again. Have a safe & fun hike.

It was parity good I love it

hiking
1 month ago

This is one of my favorite hikes here in San Diego so far, very steep. If you want to work on your cardio this is the best one to do it on. Just don’t do it during the heat of the summer. This is not a hike for the weak, the steep climb all the way up is the biggest challenge. If you go past potato chip rock there is a lot more trails with great views.

hiking
1 month ago

Did the fire road yesterday and this one today. Def like this one MUCH more. The trail was busier than others in the area have been on a weekday and the other entrance had cars everywhere. Luckily, there were only a few people when I got to the top. I don't think I'd come on a weekend because of the popularity of the trail. Difficulty level is accurate for the incline, but no crazy maneuvering on boulders or anything. I brought 1.5L of water for myself and my mid-sized pup--wish I had brought 2.5L (on a breezy day in early Feb).

Pup friendly: Awesome for pups this time of year! There are only a couple points where the path gets too skinny to pass with a pup, but they are short sections. There is a picnic table/viewing area about 1.5-2 miles in where there is a trash can for dog poop. Otherwise, that is the last trash can on the way up. Speaking of, a lot of people don't pick up after their pets on this trail... please don't be one of them!

1 month ago

i wasn't used to the steepness bit in the end it was fun

hiking
1 month ago

A lot of stairs with a long line at the top but a great view of the valley

hiking
1 month ago

One of my favorite hikes in San Diego. I've always started it at around dawn to avoid the crowds, yet there's still a line at Potato Chip Rock every time. The lake is beautiful, views are amazing, and the boulders and unbelievable. There's a few places where the trail takes you between or under boulders, so fun! Even early in the morning in December I went through 2 liters of water. I snack at two places: the first is at the picnic tables about 1 mile from the trailhead (2 miles from the parking lot); the other on the summit to recharge for the way down. I'd recommend trekking poles, sunglasses, a hat, and suncreen.

1 month ago

Did this hike twice now, once from the lake and one from the street entrance on the back side. The street entrance is shorter, not straight up to the Rock. It's a very difficult hike for anyone that isn't well prepared for the incline. The lake entrance was beautiful and an amazing hike. Definitely get the early as it's very popular and the extra people make it a much longer hike.

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