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Potato Chip Rock Hike (Mt. Woodson) in San Diego

The iconic rock is one of the most photographed places in the San Diego region

Best time: September–May

Potato Chip Rock Hike (Mt. Woodson)
Potato Chip Rock Hike (Mt. Woodson)
Potato Chip Rock Hike (Mt. Woodson)
Potato Chip Rock Hike (Mt. Woodson)

Hikers are attracted to this unique, thin rock located at the peak of the Mount Woodson by the scenic views and photo ops. Probably most San Diego residents have a picture of themselves on that rock, over the oblivion. The hike to the Mt Woodson is not complicated and can be done in a few hours. There are also a few trails to the top to choose from.

The hikes usually start in Poway, a half hour drive north of San Diego. The most popular route starts at Lake Poway Park. It can be done in about 4 hours. The rock which is about 850m high is quite safe, and no major incidents have been reported. However, hikers have to be cautious not to injure themselves for the sake of a good shot.

Although the trail is accessible year-round, winter, spring and autumn are considered the best seasons for this hike, while summer is not recommended since it's too hot and dry. The best time to do the hike is early morning especially if you make it during the warm time of the year.

Practical info

When is the best time to hike to Potato Chip Rock in San Diego?

Hiking to Potato Chip Rock, located in San Diego, is best carried out from September to May, during mild weather conditions. Mount Woodson is best approached in autumn, winter, or spring, while summer is excessively hot and dry for hiking. Ideal timing for this hike is early in the morning, particularly in summer. Show more

Where is the starting point for the hike to Potato Chip Rock?

Lake Poway Park is the most popular starting point for the hike to Potato Chip Rock, located a 30-minute drive north of San Diego. Hikers can also approach Mount Woodson via the Lake Poway Staging Area Trailhead and the Mount Woodson Trail from Ramona. A number of trails are accessible to the summit of Mount Woodson. Show more

What are the alternative routes to reach the summit of Mount Woodson?

The Fry-Koegel Trail, Mount Woodson Trail from Ramona, and the Lake Poway Staging Area Trailhead are alternate routes to reach the summit of Mount Woodson. Skill level and fitness should determine preferred trails. These several routes offer distinct variations, thus prospective hikers must research the route that best suits their need. Show more

What precautions do hikers need to take when hiking to Potato Chip Rock?

Certain precautions must be taken by hikers before embarking on a hike to Potato Chip Rock. This includes wearing the appropriate hiking shoes, several liters of water, a first-aid kit, and a map of the hiking trail. Specific caution must also be observed when atop the high and narrow rock to avoid accidents and falls, thus safety measures should always take the topmost priority. Show more

Can the hike to Potato Chip Rock be done in less than 4 hours?

It is possible to complete the hike to Potato Chip Rock in less than 4 hours depending on the route taken and the hiker's level of fitness. An average hiking pace from Lake Poway Park takes around 4 hours round trip, while other trails may vary in time. The duration of the hike to the top of Mount Woodson may range from 3 to 8 hours, depending on the trail selected. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin