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Stand on a San Diego Icon: The Hike to Potato Chip Rock

Stand on a San Diego Icon: The Hike to Potato Chip Rock

From desert walkabouts to seaside moseys, a fabulous wealth of hiking opportunities lies within our diverse hinterland here at the Sofia Hotel. Easily one of the most popular hikes of all is that up to the aptly named Potato Chip Rock.

It’s only about 30 miles or so to the best-known Potato Chip Rock trailhead from the Sofia, one of very best San Diego hotels, so consider making the day trip: You will soak up some lovely Southern California scenery and try out one of our region’s primo photo ops firsthand!

The Hike

Potato Chip Rock is a wafer-like prong of granodiorite near the summit of 2,881-foot Mount Woodson, a boulder-strewn peak that looms east of Lake Poway. That body of water harbors the western trailhead for climbing the mountain along an 8-mile round-trip route. (There’s an $8 fee for parking at Lake Poway, by the way.)

It is a steep hike, and much of it has little in the way of shade, so be sure to bring along sun protection and plenty of water (this time of year especially). We recommend an early start as well to avoid the afternoon heat.

Nonetheless, it’s all worth it as you pass in wonderment through the natural chaparral rock gardens of Mount Woodson. Exposed at the surface, granodiorite weathers in dramatic fashion: You will see lots of interesting joints, pockmarks, and alcoves on the countless boulders and outcrops, some of which are downright monumental.

The Potato Chip Itself

Eventually, as you hike, you will get near the antennae towers of the mountaintop, with the iconic sliver of Potato Chip Rock jutting out of the ridge crest a bit shy of the summit proper. Word to the wise: It is also to be expected to see plenty of fellow hikers lining up to have their own moment out on the wacky landform—so be prepared to wait your turn!

Depending on the perspective, pictures of Potato Chip Rock can make it look more precipitous than it really is. It’s certainly a delightfully strange experience stepping out onto its lip—one you’ll surely want to be memorialized in your own snapshot.

The views from Potato Chip Rock and the rest of the Mount Woodson ridgeline are their own reward: You can see a nice swath of San Diego County and the mirage-like Pacific Ocean.

Hike Potato Chip Rock During Your Next Sofia Stay!

The hike up to Potato Chip Rock shows off some spectacular San Diego geology and some beautiful sprawling vistas. Consider packing a picnic and heading for Mount Woolson—and then come back to the luxurious comforts of the Sofia, one of the standouts among San Diego hotels, and maybe savor a well-earned, post-hike dinner at Currant American Brasserie!