Hiking California – Potato Chip Rock
A quick rundown of our adventure hiking California’s Potato Chip Cliff.
Ok, the photo is deceiving. The athletic ability of our family is average at best. Well, that’s what I thought when we decided to start a new adventure of hiking California. For all of you who get to live or visit this gorgeous piece of earth, I will do my best to tell you about these cool places from our averagely athletic perspective.
Level of Difficulty
I had seen this cool looking rock in a lot of the California things to do Pinterest pins. It’s known as Potato Chip Rock (we call it Potato Chip Cliff, it just rolls off the tongue better to us) but the actual name is Woodson Mountain. I checked it out on a hiking website that called the hike moderate as far as an intensity level. Our family called it challenging and the kids called it hard…one may have said torture, it was hard to tell through the panting. Either way, we slightly underestimated the intensity for us. We went on an 80 degree day and the entire hike took us 5 hours. There are clear dirt paths starting fairly wide as you get closer to the top it narrows and becomes a more rocky incline. Ladies make sure you’ve been doing your lunges or your butt cheeks are gonna feel it in the morning like mine did.
Getting to the top is pretty much uphill the majority of the way which was the culprit for most of the complaining. I admit, I was struggling at times and giving the non sweaty descenders the evil eye. I didn’t realize it until I was heading back that it was a lot easier going downhill and that’s what you get almost the entire way back. After the, almost, 4 miles you just did uphill this is welcomed! Altogether this hike is approximately 7.5 miles from the front trail head.
Beginning, Middle and Lunch
Mount Woodson has a front and back trail head. The front trail head is at 14644 Lake Poway Rd. Poway, CA and will give you the full 7 mile hike. Parking for Non-Poway residence is $10 per vehicle. Military ID gets you free parking. There are picnic tables, playgrounds, a little convenience store and a beautiful lake. They rent canoes and paddleboats and also allow you to fish for a small fee. There’s a cute little patio overlooking the lake too, a great place to rest and grab an ice cream cone after your hike. There are public bathrooms and a water fountain as well.
The signs recommend half gallon of water per person and pet. There were a couple dogs on the trail but the water recommendation should be taken very seriously. Several small dogs were being carried and panting heavily. Our Danes would not have done well on this hike. Hydration packs are perfect and you can find inexpensive options like this one.
At the beginning of the trail there are a couple different places with out houses but after you get approx. 1/2 mi. in you will not see another one the entire way, you’re welcome for that. Almost halfway up there is a picnic area with tables, trash cans, poopie bags and a pretty sweet overlook. It’s a great time to stop for lunch, however, we prefer to go up just a bit away from the crowd and crawl on top of this rock for the coolest lunch view around.
Reaching the Top
When we made it to the top it was packed with people. I new this was a touristy spot but it’s always one of those you just gotta kind of places. I understood why nobody was sweating on the way down. We waited in a line of people for about an hour in order to climb out onto the potato chip part of the rock and get a photo. Of course, after that hike we were ok with the break. If you are hoping to get a group picture you have to barter with someone else and then stick around long enough to repay the favor which could be a while.
We opted for the hubby to take pictures of the kids and I and come back another time to get pictures with him out there. I keep telling you he’s such a sweetheart! Climbing onto the rock you have to jump across a large crevice between two large rocks and then walk out to the edge. If you don’t like heights this is gonna make your tummy flip flop. This part make your tummy flip flop a little but I couldn’t let the kids know it. After all the waiting we were well rested, rehydrated and excited about our accomplishment. Now I got to be the non sweaty one that looked super fit bouncing my way back down the mountain passed all those sweaty faces heading up. Sweet satisfaction my friends.
Easy-er Way Out
Now, there is a cheat way. Or a pet/kid friendly way, whatever you wanna call it. The back entrance is located at 16310 Highway 67 Ramona, CA. It is a paved trail that is only a two mile hike to potato chip cliff. If you want to take a good amount of photos at the top, this might be a better option early in the morning. We did the back entrance with our 7 year old and 11 year old. It was a good option for a weekend with a heat advisory. Don’t underestimate the incline, however. It’s pretty steep and you will still need to bring a lot of water!
You park on the side of the road near the Fire Station. It’s not very easy to see the entrance but if you walk as though you’re going to the Fire Station look for a small hand painted sign on the left side of Fire Station driveway. It starts out dirt but once you get through the short trail it’s all paved. Also, there are NO bathrooms, you’re welcome for that info.
Be sure to stop along the way and take in the views, they are spectacular and you earned it!
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