What is Potato Chip Rock?

Hello friends!  It’s been a really exciting couple of weeks since my last post – I received an amazing promotion at my work so I’ve been focusing on that for a bit.  Lots of transitions, but I’m loving every second of it.

Last Sunday, my boyfriend Steve and I decided last minute to go on a hike.  For someone who loves hiking, I haven’t been to very many of the well-known hikes around San Diego.  Most of them are pretty out of the way, so normally people plan in advance.  When we were thinking of places to go, I’d had this one in my mind for a while, so it was an easy choice!  Off we headed to Potato Chip Rock.

What is Potato Chip Rock you ask?  Well, it’s exactly what it sounds like!  It’s this long piece of rock sticking out of another rock, that from the correct angle looks like a potato chip.  I have to imagine that the phenomenon surrounding it formed like any other natural attraction.  Enough people must have taken the hike and reported back to their friends, “It was awesome!  There was also this crazy rock.  Looked a little like a potato chip.”  Then their friends thought, “I gotta go see this crazy rock for myself!”  Repeated a few times, word of mouth spread, and Potato Chip Rock was born!

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Potato Chip Rock is not actually the name of the trail – the trail you want is Mount Woodson Trail.  To get there, you’ll need to drive to the Lake Poway Park and park your car there.  IMPORTANT:  Parking is $5 cash – plan ahead.  The lot is huge and you’ll likely find a spot even if it’s busy.  Head over toward the lake and take a right on the path around the shore.  You’ll see people fishing, kids feeding the ducks, families barbecuing.  It’s a very peaceful area.

The entrance to the trail is quite far away from the actual park, so I personally count it as part of the trail.  Follow the signage for Mount Woodson Trail until you come to the trailhead – you’ll be able to see the parking lot from the other side of the lake when you get there.  There are signs saying “Heat Advisory – Bring Enough Water.”  Heed this warning my friends.  Heed it well.

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I hadn’t hiked in a long time when we went on this hike (like not in months) and so my hiking aptitude left much to be desired when we hit this trail.  It kicked my ass.  Even if I had been hiking regularly, I think it still would have done so.  It was so steep. Almost the whole time.  The kicker was that it was incredibly steep right away.  There was no gradual lead in to get you warmed up.  You step on the mountain and BAM – you’ve got yourself a nice sweat worked up.

Luckily for us, it was a great day for a hike – overcast, but not too cold.  The sun only peeked out for short moments before receding back.  If it had been sunny or any hotter, I think I would have been hating life a little bit.  I highly recommend going on a cloudy day unless you’re looking to purposely up the intensity.

The good thing about the steepness is that it’s a killer workout!  When I got to the top I really felt like I had accomplished something.  Just make sure you bring enough water, and many even a little snack.  It’s 3 miles to the top, so with the almost-mile from the parking lot to the trailhead, you’re looking at a 7.5 – 8 mile hike roundtrip.

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Potato Chip Rock is situated almost at the top of the hike, but not quite.  It’s pretty much the main reason anyone goes on the hike, with the exception of Poway locals who just blow right past it in favor of the actual peak, probably rolling their eyes a little bit.  I have to admit, it was kind of a ridiculous sight.  Once you make it to the rock, there is a line of people 30 – 50 deep waiting to take their picture on Potato Chip Rock.  It’s a total San Diego right of passage and I think it’s just the funniest thing.

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I must admit, I didn’t wait in the line.  I knew I was going to write a blog post about it and I really should have just bit the bullet so I could show you guys what it really looked like up close, but I was just so tired by the time we got to the top.  I estimate it would have taken 30 – 40 minutes to get to the front of the line, and I honestly just wanted to head back to the car.

They do make for some fun pictures though!  If you hike all the way up just to see the rock, you should definitely wait it out for the fun photo op.  Just know that it will add an extra half hour or more to your total hike time.  Steve and I went to the peak instead and took some selfies from there.

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From the parking lot to the peak and back, it took Steve and I three hours exactly to finish.  I have seen other reports of it taking four hours, and I have to assume those people waited in line for the photo.  Steve was also keeping the pace pretty fast, so we just plain made good time.

Afterward we had a delicious, well-deserved lunch at Cantina Mayahuel in North Park – SUCH BOMB TACOS (and tequila!) Long hikes followed by Mexican food – that’s the San Diego way 🙂

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In conclusion, if you’re planning to hike to Potato Chip Rock, here is what you need to know:

  1. Bring $5 cash for parking.
  2. The actual trail is called “Mount Woodson Trail”.
  3. It’s very steep – not a beginner’s hike.
  4. Bring a lot of water and a snack.
  5. Carve out 3-4 hours for your hike time.
  6. Prepare to wait 30-45 minutes to take your photo.

Have any of you gone to Potato Chip Rock?  How did you like it?  Let me know in the comments below!

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2 thoughts on “What is Potato Chip Rock?

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