Mt. Woodson, Potato Chip Rock

7-mile out and back hike with an elevation gain of 2,933 ft, moderately/strenuous

Mt. Woodson - The Potato Chip Rock Hike

March 9, 2014

I’ve been looking for a fun hike down in San Diego for the last few weeks, because my hiking buddy, AJ moved down there recently. I came across the Potato Chip Rock hike and it sounded like a fun hike. Just 3.5-miles to the rock, with 2,933 feet of elevation gain in just 3-miles. I knew it was going to be a tough.

By the time I picked up AJ and headed to the trailhead at Lake Poway it was already 11:00, and about 78° and getting hotter. Not a big deal for us, but if you aren’t use to hiking in the heat, make sure that you start a little earlier than we did.

You’re pretty much starting uphill right away, within the first mile we ran into our first snake of the season. It was a gopher snake, about 4-feet long and he was crossing the trail. You can see it in the video posted below. AJ was not happy, she hates snakes.

The right side of the trail was shaded and I asked AJ if she wanted to move to the shade, she declined, saying “that’s where the snakes hide” and she was right, we’ve ran into lots of snakes, resting in the shade, right on the side of the trail. So she was happy hiking in the sun. That part of the trail was one of just a few spots that were shaded. So bring a hat, sunscreen, and lots of water. You can bring your dogs on this trail, but don’t. We felt so bad for the dogs we saw on this hike, they were overheated and looked like they were about to pass-out. We saw people up there, without water for themselves and their dogs. It was disturbing.

We finally made it to the top, and got our first glimpse of Potato Chip Rock. It looked just like it did in the photos that I saw online, what I didn’t see online, was the line of people waiting to have their chance to take a photo of themselves standing on the rock. We asked how long the wait was and was told it was anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour. Yes, we passed and took a selfie with the rock in the background.

AJ and I kicked back for about 30 minutes taking in the beautiful views before heading back down. On the way back to the car, we were able to enjoy the views a little bit more than we did on the way up. You can actually see forever, we shocked that we were able to see, San Clemente Island & Catalina Island.

Made it back to the trailhead in 3.5-hours. It was a really fun hike. We like hikes that are challenging. We do recommend this hike. Get there early, don’t go during the summer time. Bring lots of water and leave your dog at home.  

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