Every once in a while, I like to partake in a cardiovascular activity outside of running. Anything that gets the blood pumping (whether it’s walking, rock wall climbing, tennis, even yoga, etc.) is always fun especially if you get others to join you. On this particular early summer day, I had ventured on a hike to one of San Diego’s hidden gems known as Potato Chip Rock.
Potato Chip Rock is located at the pinnacle of Mount Woodson in Ramona, CA. This hiking attraction has maintained its popularity for quite a while now as people enjoy taking their instagrams, snapchats, and selfies here.
My adventure began at 4:00 am where I met my squadron of cousins at Poway Lake. We found out that access to Mount Woodson Trail via Poway Lake wouldn’t be available until 6:30! However, we were able to gain access through the Blue Sky Reserve located a mile away. In doing this, we added 2-3 miles to the usual 8 mile (total round trip) hike to Potato Chip Rock. We didn’t mind as we had time to kill anyway.
Most of my gear was in check (technical running t-shirt, cargo shorts, water bottle, phone with selfie stick, etc). I did not wear hiking shoes (lesson learned). We probably didn’t officially get started until quarter to 5. At that time, the weather and daylight was great. The Poway/Ramona area is heavily inland, so it gets heated pretty quickly. So having an early start to this trek was a must! I consider myself moderately athletic but in terms of the hike itself, it wasn’t entirely easy. On a scale of how difficult it was, I’d give it a pretty high rating like 7.5. This is due to the incline and the time it took to get there. It took close to 3 hours to make it to the top. Obviously the hike up the trail is more difficult than on the way down.
The Mount Woodson Trail has a lot of beautiful scenery. On the way to Potato Chip Rock, my squad and I stopped for rest and photo opportunities. For most of the morning, it was overcast. As we climbed the mountain, we ended up above the clouds with sun! What a sight to behold!
After a couple of hours, we reached our destination to Potato Chip Rock! What an accomplishment. I didn’t want to be that guy but I did ask, “Are we there, yet?!” We finally did. It was fantastic to take pictures and see the view of the Poway area from a high vantage point. Because we were early, there wasn’t a lot of people forming a line to take photos on the infamous rock.
After we spent a solid 20-30 minutes on and around Potato Chip Rock, we made our way back down Mount Woodson. We noticed more people making their way up. Our early excursion paid off with less people and less sun! For brunch, my cousins and I went to the Broken Yolk Cafe in Carmel Mountain Ranch. What a lot to accomplish before 11 am. I’m glad I got to spend time with loved ones and experience a part of San Diego I’ve never been to before!
Potato Chip Rock information:
What to Bring:
2 liters of water
When to go:
The earlier the better. More people will be there as the day goes on, so avoid the crowds. The Poway area can get very hot especially during the summer. You can begin your hike at Poway Lake at 6:30 when the park opens. Or you can begin earlier starting at the Blue Sky Reserve (although this will add more miles to your hike)!