Hiking Potato Chip Rock in San Diego

Jason Daniel Shaw

Hiking Potato Chip Rock in San Diego from Lake Poway

Mt Woodson Summit – San Diego, CA

If you live in southern California and haven’t heard of the Potato Chip Rock hike, do you even go outside?!  The hike is a nice day-hike starting from Lake Poway and climbing about 1,800 feet to the Mt Woodson summit.  The roundtrip hike covers 7 miles and has little to no shade so make sure that you take plenty of water.

Potato Chip Rock Selfie

Getting to Potato Chip Rock Hike

The starting point for this hike is at the Lake Poway Recreation Area at the end of Lake Poway Road, 14644 Lake Poway Road, Poway, CA 92064.  Parking is $10 (as of 2/11/18) for non-Poway residents but there are a lot of facilities in the recreation area so it is definitely worth the cost of entry.  Be sure to note the time that the park closes so that you don’t get stuck in the parking lot.

Lake Poway Hike

The Potato Chip Rock Hike

The trail starts near the dock down by Lake Poway and circles around the lake about a mile before the Mt Woodson Trail splits off and heads up the mountain.  While swimming in the lake is prohibited, it does offer nice views.  The trails are wide and packed dirt for the first half of the hike with moderate inclines.  Make sure to always follow the signs for Mt Woodson Trail / Summit.  About halfway through the hike, there is a clearing with a couple picnic tables that provide a perfect spot to rest for a few minutes before tackling the second half of the hike.  The second half of the hike is much more steep than the first with a significant amount of rocks on the trail.  The views get more spectacular the further you get.  About a quarter mile from the summit, you get your first view of potato chip rock, just shy of the actual summit.  Push on the last bit as you are almost there.

Potato Chip Rock Crowds

Potato Chip Rock Photos

Once you get to potato chip rock, you will likely have to wait your turn to take a picture on the unique formation.  If it is a nice weekend day, expect to wait quite a while.  Our wait was almost one hour and it was quite windy at the top, making it a cold wait for our photo op.  The rock takes a bit of scrambling to get onto but was surprisingly wider than I expected.  After taking photos, we headed back down the mountain because we were freezing cold and it was getting late.  The hike took us about 2 hours on the way up with stops to take photos and rest and about one hour on the way down.  With the one hour wait, the entire trip took 4 hours and we covered 7.5 miles.  I am glad that I finally crossed this one off the list as I have been wanting to do the potato chip rock hike for quite some time.  If you have done the hike, leave me a comment down below or on Instagram and give me some more recommendations for other hikes that you enjoy.



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