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Potato Chip Rock, Mount Woodson

San Diego Metro Area, California

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Potato Chip Rock, Mount Woodson

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  • The trail starts by hugging the shores of Lake Poway.- Potato Chip Rock, Mount Woodson
  • Hillsides at the beginning of the trail offer picnic tables.- Potato Chip Rock, Mount Woodson
  • The trail starts by hugging the shores of Lake Poway.- Potato Chip Rock, Mount Woodson
  • Typical section of the trail once it departs from the banks of Lake Poway.- Potato Chip Rock, Mount Woodson
  • View north toward Escondido.- Potato Chip Rock, Mount Woodson
  • Typical section of trail.- Potato Chip Rock, Mount Woodson
  • Two miles into the trail you'll find an open view with a picnic table.- Potato Chip Rock, Mount Woodson
  • Cairn along the trail.- Potato Chip Rock, Mount Woodson
  • This oak tree, about two thirds of the way to Potato Chip Rock, is a popular rest stop.- Potato Chip Rock, Mount Woodson
  • Hikers wait in line for a photo at Potato Chip Rock.- Potato Chip Rock, Mount Woodson
  • Hikers wait in line for a photo at Potato Chip Rock.- Potato Chip Rock, Mount Woodson
  • With careful cropping, the rock seems more precarious than it really is.- Potato Chip Rock, Mount Woodson
  • Although not a small drop by any means, the rock is quite safe.- Potato Chip Rock, Mount Woodson
  • Manzanita. - Potato Chip Rock, Mount Woodson
  • View from the trail.- Potato Chip Rock, Mount Woodson
  • Unidentified species (help us identify it by providing feedback).- Potato Chip Rock, Mount Woodson
  • San Diego is silhouetted against the Pacific Ocean.- Potato Chip Rock, Mount Woodson
  • Unidentified species (help us identify it by providing feedback).- Potato Chip Rock, Mount Woodson
  • Mountain biker along the lower section of the trail.- Potato Chip Rock, Mount Woodson
  • View of Lake Poway.- Potato Chip Rock, Mount Woodson
  • Lake Poway.- Potato Chip Rock, Mount Woodson
  • Lake Poway.- Potato Chip Rock, Mount Woodson
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Great views along most of the trail. Fun photo opportunity.
Cons: 
Crowded. Long wait for a photo. Exposed for much of the trail. Radio towers at the summit.
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Region:
San Diego Metro Area, CA
Congestion: 
High
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Net Elevation Gain: 
2,300.00 ft (701.04 m)
Parking Pass: 
Lake Poway Park Parking Fee
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Fall
Suitable for:
Hiking, Biking
Total Distance: 
7.50 mi (12.07 km)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
945.00 ft (288.04 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Team

This there-and-back hike to Potato Chip Rock and the summit of Mount Woodson is quite strenuous, although you may not believe it based on the sheer number of people who complete this trail. Its popularity is due to the unique broken boulder about a quarter of a mile from the summit. Strategic cropping of a photo will give the impression that climbing out onto the rock is much more extreme than it is in reality.

Potato Chip Rock is the most popular photo op, but this hike doesn't skimp on views. The first few miles gradually slope up around Lake Poway, providing excellent views of the lake. As the trail gets steeper, the view opens up all the way to the Pacific Ocean with the city of San Diego silhouetted against it. Chaparral and boulders decorate the landscape, and there are few trees to obstruct the view (or to offer shade). The boulders are popular with climbers, both for bouldering and top-rope climbs. Plants of the chaparral offer up tiny flowers and berries, and stopping to examine these is a great excuse to catch your breath.

Be sure to take plenty of water, as the trail is both exposed and strenuous. Leashed dogs are allowed on this hike, and be sure to bring extra water for your pet. The hike begins at Lake Poway Park, which is loaded with amenities like restrooms, water fountains, picnic tables, and benches.

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(1 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(61 within a 30 mile radius)

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