Potato Chip Rock at Mount Woodson near San Diego has kind of turned into a tourist attraction, as in you end up waiting in line to take your picture on the rock (made much worse by the number of people who struggle to get up to the rock). Overall it is a fun little hike, and Lake Poway is kind of neat to hike near (although you can’t swim in it, and on a hot day that seems way to tempting). I would recommend this hike highly on a cool day mid-week as that would alleviate a lot of the crowds, and help with the heat.
For those who follow this blog, I ended up doing this hike the day after I got back from Mount Whitney… probably not the best way to do a hike, but I have a friend who has invited me on this hike several times, and something always happens so I’m not able to attend. This time I wanted to fix that. I woke up at 5 AM (which was really hard to do) and got ready and then drove for nearly two hours down I-5 towards San Diego (which is actually a very pretty drive in the morning).
Lake Poway and the Start
The hike starts literally on the shore of Lake Poway (amongst the many “Bodily Contact with Water Forbidden” signs), and makes for a very picturesque start to the trip. The hike starts out fairly tame, but before to long you can feel the elevation gain. It is kind of neat starting on the side of the lake, and then an hour later looking back and seeing the lake below you, looking significantly smaller now than it did earlier (I didn’t think to take a picture for some reason).
To the Rock
As you start getting up, the view gets really nice really quickly. Lake Poway is roughly 500 feet above sea level (wikipedia only has the elevation for the city), while the mountain is at 2,881 feet above sea level, meaning this is a low hike with some really good gain.
This was a slightly harder hike than I really wanted to do immediately after Whitney, but to make it better, most of the people I was hiking with had done a 100 mile bike ride event the day prior, so I was roughly on par with everyone else.
The main event for most people on this hike is the Potato Chip, so wandering to the summit is kind of weird after the big crowd at the rock. The summit for Mount Woodson has fully been taken over by radio antennas (I don’t think I have ever seen such a collection of “Do Not Enter or Radiation will KILL you” signs before). I personally would recommend you do it, as it only takes an extra 10 minutes, and there are some nice views if you wander around (and avoid all of the chain link fences).
The hike back down just got a bit warm, but otherwise was pretty uneventful. Due to the fact that this was much closer to San Diego than I normally travel, the group I was hiking with and I all went to Stone Brewery for some post-hike refreshments, something that I would highly recommend (the food is great even if you don’t care for the beer).
Thanks to Leslie Chan for the Potato Chip Rock picture the whole taking a picture thing was a bit complicated there.