The Potato Chip Rock. No, it’s not some swanky new dance move sweeping the country. However, it is one heck of a good hike. Yep, so my friend I ask you, are you looking for a quick travel guide to San Diego? Because I’ve got you covered!
Oh yes, America’s finest city has a lot to offer, from the sun, the sea, gorgeous scenes of nature annnnd its world famous Potato Chip Rock. Located about 40 miles drive inland, in the city of Poway, at the top of Mt. Woodson Trail, one will find massive boulders, beautiful scenery and a long line to take a picture with a glorified pet rock. Yep. Lovingly nicknamed Potato Chip Rock, this barely there, sliver of a by-gone boulder has become a much-loved So Cal tourist attraction and attracts visitors from all over the globe. (And without giving too much of the ending away. Spoiler Alert, sadly, there are no potato chips waiting at the top.)
Make no mistake this is no easy trail to hike. In fact, if you go the long route, it will be flatter technically, but it is going to take you a whopping 8-miles roundtrip. On the other hand, if you go the “short cut” route, although, it will shave off a whopping four miles off your hike, most of your journey will be uphill, on a steep mountainous old service type of road. Whichever way you choose to go, the hike is beautiful and you will get a great bird’s eye view of all of San Diego. From the ocean in the far off distance, to the nearby mountains and green valleys below, on a clear day, this is an unforgettable backdrop for climbers.
So, what all should you bring with you on your trek up the trail? Well it goes without saying that depending on what time of year you go, certainly think about dressing for the occasion. If you go in fall/winter, a jacket is recommended. If you’re like me and and my posse, and decide to go early spring in So Cal, where that means its sunny and a blazing 90 degrees outside, well then in that case you should definitely bring a lot of water, snacks, sunscreen and… did I mention a lot of water? I’ll be honest with you, I am in fairly decent shape, doing my occasional Pilates class and uphill treadmill walking at the gym, and the short cut uphill route of this trail, kicked my butt. I had to stop on numerous occasions to catch my breath and take a much needed water break. Oh and what the brochure doesn’t tell you is the trail has 1,700 feet of elevation gain. And maybe even more elevation gain with the shorter trail, I am not sure. And boy does it feel like you are walking uphill the whole way to the summit. Please, please, also keep this in mind, if you’re bringing pets along for the ride. They too need water and snacks and it does get hot up there on their feet.
Now because I didn’t go the long trail route, I drove a bit future down the road and parked alongside the busy highway 67, then cut across to the trail. I hear though if you decide to hike the full route, the parking address will take you to an actual parking lot, which you do have to pay for. But with that parking offering, you may or may not get a great view of a lake? I am not sure exactly, I however just left my car on the side of the road and went for the short way.
Other things you will see as you crawl up the mountainous trail? Well you will definitely see plenty of daredevil climbers that are bouldering the massive rocks that sprinkle the mountainside and you will also see a few random houses sprinkled in there, maybe a snake or two, some pretty flowers and wildlife annnnd some ginormous cell phone towers, that are a bit of an eyesore to some degree If I am being completely honest. The upside is, you do get excellent cell phone service on your hike, Haha, perfect for uploading Instagram photos of you on top of potato chip rock once you get there.
Speaking of…The Summit of Mount Woodsen Trail, also known as finally reaching the holy grail of hiking spots. The much beloved Potato Chip Rock. Yep, the awesome end result of this hiking experience will be a bucket list type of moment when you finally reach the top and take your ultimate fantasy picture on top of SD’s beloved Potato Chip Rock. Be prepared though, depending on what day you go and the time of the year, as I mentioned before, there will oddly and most likely be a line at the top, with everyone waiting patiently to have their moment of alone time with the rock. So in this waiting time feel free, to check out the photography competition and come up with a really clever pose with your favorite Potato Chip. I personally opted for the dangle over method and the jump up action pose, which in retrospect probably wasn’t the safest choices, but it did make for one heck of a story and excellent photo memories.
What a fun Potato Chip Challenge to hike to the top!
Address to the Short cut route is:
16200 Hwy 67, Ramona, Ca
Address for the Long way:
14644 Lake Poway Rd, Poway, Ca 92074
If you want to see the video journey of my hike to Potato Chip Rock, definitely check out the video below! Also, have you climbed Mt. Woodson? What would be your signature pose with the world famous Potato Chip rock? Let me know in the comments below.
Emmy Award-Winning Producer, TV Host, and All-Around Lover of Life. I'm a sarcastic, glass is half full type of gal, who wears too much red lipstick and bright colors, who loves to laugh til' it hurts, travel the world, pet animals, learn about new cultures, drive fast cars and oh yeah, go on spontaneous, adventures.