Potato Chip Rock via Mt. Woodson Trail

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Poway, California

Potato Chip Rock via Mt. Woodson Trail is a 7.3 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Poway, California that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Length7.3 miElevation gain2,119 ftRoute typeOut & back
Dogs on leashHikingLakeViewsRockyNo shadeFee
Description
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Getting There

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)

Ample parking is available in the park. There are restrooms and picnic areas at the park surrounding the trailhead.

From Espola Road go to the Lake Poway entrance. On weekdays access to Lake Poway is free. On weekends, for non-Poway residents, the fee is $10.00 for all day. The lake and park are very clean and a well maintained. We had a picnic with our kids and had an enjoyable day at the park after our hike. Take the lake trail to the east side where the trailhead is clearly marked about .5 mile from the dock going counter clockwise around the lake.

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Reviews (6,506)
Photos (4,312)
Activities (5,635)
Completed (15,151)
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Stacia Williams
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HikingNo shadeRocky

The trail is hard but worth it. However there is no shade and in the heat it’s a whole other level... I saw people with dogs but this path is so rocky and steep and no shade .. people were carrying their dogs down . Some people made it to the top stopping several times ... I made it but it took stopping with them and it took me 4 hours ... lol take lots of water and protein snacks wear hiking boots/ shoes coming down a few people rolled their ankles . Snakes... it’s that time of year.

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lupe perez
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Hiking

Hard but totally worth it

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Megan Obrian
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Hiking

Start the hike early! I started at 7AM and reached the summit around 9 AM. It had already started to warm up by then. The hike itself was beautiful, pack a snack and lots of water!

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Reza Rahimi
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Hiking

Grab some water and snacks! Great hike and amazing scenery!

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Ashu Tiwari
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HikingGreat!

Great trail, warm weather most of the year. Its more than moderate hike.

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Brittany Killian
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Hiking

challenging at times, but worth it! the potato chip was slippery as it had been raining. highly recommend climbing up through the slot between the two rocks vs. jumping under similar conditions.

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Dean Kwon
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Hiking

Very well maintained. It was crowded at the top

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Raquel Flores-Guerrero
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Hiking

Hard climb. Too many people at the top for photo but beautiful views

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Christopher Spurling
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Hiking

Bring water! Not much shade so plan appropriately. The line for potato chip rock gets longer as the day goes on. I did see one snake crossing the road, so just keep an eye out. The summit opens up nicely and you can find areas to eat or relax before heading back down.

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Matt X
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Hiking

Soo busy, so loud. Trail and views are beautiful, 5 out of 5 if I would have been smart and gone at a better time

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Erik Monarca
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Hiking

The trail going up was a calf buster. Lots of incline and plenty of rest areas. The line for the Chip was ridiculous. Started the hike at 7am, it got crowded pretty quickly. Other than that, gorgeous hike, excellent elevation gains. Take plenty of water, dress in layers and shade yourself properly!

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Angela Baillie
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Hiking

This trail is more difficult than moderate. It was a challenge and pretty warm. There's no shade, so water and sunscreen is a must. we went on a Thursday and it wasn't too crowded. About 3 groups of people in front of us to get a picture on Potato Chip Rock. It's not easy getting out to the picture spot. It was a rewarding hike when it was all done. My legs are sore today.

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Greg Bergman
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Hiking

Nice trail. Felt hotter than it was. Went through two liters of water and saw several with no water. Not smart. It is a workout but not the hardest trail you’ll ever do. Pretty views at the top

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AllTrails User
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Hiking

Awesome day

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Daisy Janeth
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Hiking

Really a moderate hike that can take 3 hours or more depending on your pace. Tail is well kept and there is plenty of room so it does not seem crowded. Recommend going early and being prepared and dress in layers for temperature changes as you go up. There is usually a line for the photo op so be prepared

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Kaleigh Ryan
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Hiking

Awesome trail! As other said pretty exposed so wear sunscreen and cover up as needed. Great variation of uphill, even, and down terrain. Loved this one. Recommend during the week to avoid crowds and long lines at the photo op.

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Laura Cervantes
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Hiking

It’s hard but worth it. The sun was very strong so sunscreen and a head are highly needed.

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Andi Garavaglia
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Hiking

Come early but a fantastic trail, will challenge you without overdoing it.

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Mary Hopperton
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Hiking

Hot and humid but great time

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Greg Tapia
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Hiking

a little crowded at the summit but, all good. beautiful hike

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Monique Ellis
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Hiking

It's definitely listed on the trail signs as DIFFICULT. It's very hilly, but we'll worth it for the views. The wild flowers right now are beautiful. Be aware that of you start at the trail head on the far lot, it's actually a little over 9 miles to the summit and back.

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Sarah Jean
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HikingBugsGreat!No shadeRocky

Would definitely recommend and go again. It’s well-paved and well-marked. Steady incline all the way without much shade, so bring lots of water! The rock formations and boulders along the way make for great rest stops with great views. Crowded at the top since everyone’s there for a photo op.

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Markobreezy .
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HikingGreat!No shade

Great hike. From WA so this scenery was a beautiful change of pace. No shade so bring a hat or some sunscreen. Not tons of people on a 11am start on a Thursday. Be Safe

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Vincent Nguyen
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Hiking

Fun fun. Parked the car further out in a neighborhood to do late evening/night hike and watch the sunset.

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Emily Seaver
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Hiking

AllTrails tells you to follow somac trail. ITS THE WRONG TRAIL. Follow lake poway trail and follow it to Woodson mt. Once on the right trail, it’s lovely!!

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