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Potato Chip Rock via Mt. Woodson Trail

HARD 3676 reviews
#1 of 4 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, 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)

1 day ago

Great hike and beautiful view, but be ready for a major incline the whole way up. I would not recommend bringing a dog or going if you are not used to hiking steep inclines. Overall, great workout. Around 130 flights up.

hiking
4 days ago

Great trail that leads to cool rock formations and a summit with lots of antennas. The most famous formation is potato chip rock where you stand and get your picture taken. The beginning of the hike is also beautiful because it walks alongside a lake and park. Best to come on a weekday.

hiking
8 days ago

We started the hike @ 0720 and finished back at the car at 1055. Parking was easy at the lake. Free to get in for Poway residents or Active Military. We started early so it was nice and cold for about an hour then warmed up. Defiantly start early. Also there are some step hills to climb and lots of rock steps.

hiking
9 days ago

I did this hike in 40 minutes and today in 31 minutes! I love this hill!

hiking
11 days ago

Not amazing, not bad. Pretty steep up, long and winding down. Glad I did it but wouldn’t go again

This is a HARD trail. Half way there I wanted to give up but I’m glad I didn’t.

Great hike for a weekend day, you’ll be wiped out after, so don’t make follow-on plans - or you can stay in the area for a picnic on the grounds (beautiful) and enjoy the lake. There is ample parking (go to the end/last parking lot, trail begins right there, next to the bathrooms). While the hike is called “Potato Chip Rock” the actual trail name is “Mt. Woodson.” As you see the mile markers along the way, subtract .2 miles (that's point two, not two :) - Potato Chip is before Mt. Woodson summit. When you’re on the trail (outgoing) and you see the cougar warning, go right....and when you return, go left! It’s very easy to hang a right there on the return because your tired and hungry and not paying much attention. Potato Chip offers a great photo opportunity at the rock- it helps if you do the hike with someone so they can take your pic. While moderate in areas, overall this hike is very challenging. Definitely earned a hoppy IPA and a sandwich!

hiking
20 days ago

Gorgeous Views ! No shade , long lines to take a pic at the rock but so worth it .

hiking
20 days ago

this is NOT an easy trail. make sure to wear proper attire and bring lots of water. I completed this hike in the winter and it was really cold and windy at the top so make sure you're properly clothes. lots of desert views. cool picture opportunities at the top

hiking
no shade
rocky
22 days ago

Great hike but start early. It’s HOT out. Bring water and hat. $10 for parking.

hiking
no shade
rocky
27 days ago

Great hike! Started the hike right after the gate opened and finished under 3 hours. It was a cool breezy morning. Beautiful views as well!

hiking
no shade
27 days ago

Wow great hike. Left at 9 am and got to potato chip at just before 11am. It was very hot so make sure to wear a hat and bring plenty of water (I drank 2 L). Halfway up I was asking myself why the heck I was doing this, as it was hot and miserable with tons of rocks to step over and no shade. However, I stuck through and it was worth it. I went by myself and luckily there were tons of people up there and a nice couple agreed to take my picture on the rock. It took me only about an hour to get down, go figure but I was running a lot of the way. Great hike and would recommend starting really early or going on a day that isn’t so hot (it’s 89 degrees right now as I just finished).

hiking
28 days ago

this hike is very fun, lots of up hill climbing up some rocks. It is very hot and not much shaded area. dress light and bring lots of water . also get an early start we started at 7:30 ish and got back down at 10:30. the heat was already bad by 9 a.m. definitely worth it

hiking
1 month ago

Great challenge. Beautiful scenery. Worth it but go early in the warmer season because it gets super hot out there. We started right at 7am.

hiking
1 month ago

Walked this 9/12/19, 10:30am start. High 80s, clear sky. Nice views along the way looking west. A tough series of switchbacks, but steady approach works well. Bring an extra water. 1.5 liter is probably safe. 90 minutes up; 70 minutes back. Stayed at top for awhile to enjoy the view looking down on Ramona Dam, etc. and enjoy a snack. Didn't push it, but kept a decent pace carrying a 15 lb pack for staying in practice for outback camping trips. A 1.5 mi longer hike than Iron Mountain with tougher switchbacks.

hiking
no shade
1 month ago

after reading the reviews we got a 630am start on this trail. Very well established and maintained with great facilities at the trailhead, awesome views along the way and even portopotties scattered along the trail. Finished at 1030 and it was already getting hot. 2 liters of water was plenty for me but if you start any later id recommend more.

hiking
1 month ago

Breath taking views. Potato chip rock was scary, so I didn't get up there, but took great pic of my friend who was more daring than I was.

hiking
1 month ago

Amazing adventure !

hiking
1 month ago

Amazing hike! It is very steep but plenty of places/rocks that you can sit in & take a break at. We went in February and it was very cloudy / rainy. Once we got to Potato Chip Rock, the skies cleared up and it was beautiful! Hike down is a breeze after going all the way

hiking
1 month ago

So far this was one of my hardest hikes so far. It is straight incline for 2.5 miles. I’m not the best for inclines but it was a work out. I brought 3l of water and coconut water. I drank all of it... I thought I was going to pass out many times but I stopped and rested as much as I needed. The hike took forever but I finished. People were so nice to me a guy gave me an apple another refilled my water and they were so encouraging. My heart rate for to 162 which made me nauseous bc I work out but I get up to 150 usually... today my body is soar but a good soar. My calf’s, buttocks, and other parts of my body muscles have been worked out. I am going to try this one again in the fall and my goal is to be good at this one. A lot of the people I met done it many times.

This was a well maintained trail. Go early, it gets crowded. We started at 6:00 am.

hiking
no shade
1 month ago

Definitely a good workout. The rock at the end was a little disappointing.

hiking
no shade
rocky
1 month ago

Great trail and awesome views! Definitely start early because the heat is a killer. We saw 2 rescues because people passed out. Definitely take 3l of water minimum or more on a hot day. We took 3 L and a Gatorade each. There is no shade the whole hike with the exceptions of some shaded rocks in the morning. Once you reach higher elevation the views are awesome!! We reached the potatoes chip and there was a line to take pictures. We waited about 30 minutes but at least we rested before coming back down the trail. Very well maintained trail with trash cans and porter potties at the bottom of the trail. We saw a lot of families with young kids and dogs. The trail is very rugged so take appropriate shoes with good grip.

Done this 7.1 miles again today. I started at 6 am to avoid heat. Beautiful, well maintained/marked and busy trail. Bring plenty of water. I used all 3 litters. Parking costs $10, If you park at blue sky reserve area then it free but you have to go on longer trail to get to the trail to the potato chip. By the time you get up to the chip you will see a lot of more hikers who came up from Ramona 67 size which is shorter trail. Please bring your trash out. Happy trail!

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