Potato Chip Rock via Mt. Woodson Trail

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Lake Poway Park

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, 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

lake

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

no shade

fee

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
10 hours ago

It was a great and fun family experience. Very tough, I was really exhausted after words. The Potato Chip Rock looks bigger in pictures but maybe not in person.

hiking
20 hours ago

Busy on a Sunday, but still able to maintain social distance and most people were wearing masks. Medium challenging, but fun on a beautiful Sunday morning. We started at 7:15ish, but sooner would have been better because it started to really warm up. I don’t recommend dogs because of the heat, but there were dogs on the trail. Have fun!

hiking
1 day ago

Awesome views of Poway, the coast, and inland valleys. I would say this is on the easy end of a “hard” rated hike. More of a long moderate hike. Unless it’s sunny and warm, then be careful! Over an hour wait at the rock on Saturday morning. Go later in the day to avoid crowds at the top. Highly recommend.

hiking
bugs
no shade
2 days ago

hiking
bugs
fee
no shade
rocky
2 days ago

Difficulty: Hard Mileage: ~7 Pets: Dog friendly View: Potato Chip Rock, Mountains What to bring: At least 1 liters, snacks, hat Parking: Lake Poway Park Fee: $10 at the park for Poway non-resident Time: ~2.5-3 hours This is the front side of the Mt Woodson aka the Potato Chip. It’s the longer mileage hike about a little over 7 miles. It gets extremely and I mean extremely hot fast. Go early. Start by 7am, you’ll still get the heat. About a 2.5-3 hour hike. Wear at least a hat and bring plenty of water. I’ve seen people go crazy due to heat exhaustion including vomiting, frustration, hyperventilation, etc. so be extra careful. Weekends are zoos. There’s a Disneyland line to take a picture on the rock. (Not worth it IMO, but do it once). Probably the most popular and challenging hike due to heat and length. Good workout!

hiking
over grown
rocky
4 days ago

hiking
bugs
no shade
over grown
rocky
4 days ago

I recommend to go early as mush as possible.

hiking
4 days ago

Start early, can get super hot!!

5 days ago

did this hike 5 years ago. great pathway up. definitely some good buoulders off the path if youre into climbing. the potatoe chip rock was pretty nice with good views. be ready to jump across a 4ft gap to get to the ledge

hiking
5 days ago

Depending on the side you go through. It could be a satisfying challenge because how some areas are steep. The hike itself it's great because your walking on a road.

running
no shade
rocky
5 days ago

For a trail runner's perspective: I ran/hiked this trail in preparations for my 30K race this upcoming weekend at Bryce Canyon National Park. This is a nice trail to work on your ascent, because you'll cover approximately 2,000 feet of around 3.5 miles or so. It's very difficult to run the entire ascent, but it's not impossible. The trail itself is very technical. I was wearing a pair of HOKA Speedgoat 4s and handled the trail just fine, but you'll encounter lots of rocks to jump on or over. For a casual hiker's perspective: This trail is considered to be one of the hardest known trails in San Diego. I'd take a few of my friends with me on this trail. My friends don't exercise routinely, and they'd get BLASTED on this hike, especially the first half. It's literally all uphill of 2,000 feet. So with that being said, I would not recommend doing this hike if you're not really in shape. My fastest time on this trail is 1:31:38 of 7.04 miles (recorded using a Garmin Forerunner 945). I used a GPS watch to track my mileage, so I'm not sure why it would be 7.6 miles as shown for the distance of this trail.

hiking
no shade
5 days ago

No idea why this is a popular hike. Potato chip rock is lackluster to say the least. I didn’t even bother with a picture. The entire hike is no shade, exposed trail heading up the mountain. Bring 2-4L depending on when you hike. I brought 2L and ran out on the way down. Probably sweat about a gallon of water out of my body. Nothing special or even extraordinary about this hike at all. I probably wouldn’t hike this again if I lived at the base. Muchhh better spots everywhere. 2/5 at the best

hiking
no shade
rocky
6 days ago

My watch says I just went up 170 flights of stairs, which is twice that of the Empire State Building. That’s pretty much how the summit portion of this hike is. It’s about a mile around the lake — very pretty but crowded. Then another mile that is purely vertical and it’s all in a service road — pretty boring. Then the final 1.6 miles is a gauntlet of stairs formed out of rocks. Unless you stop frequently and turn around, you will not have much of a view the whole way up. Once at the summit, you’ll be in the midst of some breathtaking power lines, radio towers, and cell towers. It was kinda of a bummer to peak. However, the trip down was gorgeous with plenty of views to enjoy. I did the whole hike in converse while carrying a 30 pound backpack. There plenty of family’s walking around, so it’s possible to complete even for the young and old. All in all, it’s a “starter” hike for those looking to do more long, elevated trips.

hiking
bugs
no shade
6 days ago

Very challenging trail! Make sure to take snacks and plenty of water.

hiking
bugs
no shade
rocky
6 days ago

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