5 Tips to Hiking to THE Potato Chip Rock, San Diego (Photos)

Tips and Photos for the San Diego - Potato Chip Rock Hike | Hours, Parking, What to Wear and other Trail information | from the travel blog travel-break.net

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I’m a big believer that you should make time for a #travelbreak… even if it’s just for the weekend or day!

In desperado need of an escape, I spent a weekend with fellow adventurer Tyson Mayr.

What better way to relax than getting outdoors?

Potato chip rock is all the hype for a shot straight out of the Lion King.

When I say “hype” I don’t mean the overrated attraction tourists and Lulu Lemon enthusiasts call Runyon Canyon.

Potato Chip Rock is a hype all worthy of Pride Rock… yes, just like when Rafiki presents Simba.



In this post we answer the following questions:
– General tips about the Potato Chip Rock hike at Lake Poway and hiking Mount Woodson.
– What to pack for your hike
– How long it takes to hike Potato Chip Rock
– Where do you start the Potato Chip Rock hike
– Potato Chip Rock Pictures
– Closing times and parking information for the Potato Chip Hike


What to wear on the hike:

It is HOT, I highly recommend a sports bra, light tank and shorts. Alternatively protect your skin from the sun by wearing loose pants. Hiking shoes aren’t necessary, but at the least running shoes with traction are required.



Which trail to Potato Chip Rock is right for you?

To come by the lake and get a long hike, start from the Poway Wilderness Picnic Area trail.
Address: 14644 Lake Poway Road, Poway, CA 92064

For a faster, shadier route take the back route from SR-67.



How long does it take to hike potato chip rock?

The proper hike from the bottle of Lake Poway, the Poway Wilderness Picnic Area Trail is 8 miles, so it will take 3-4 hours.

If you take the back route, the hike is only 3.75 miles – in and out – or 5.5 miles as a loop. It will take 2 to 3 hours.


Where do you start potato chip rock hike?

Park or walk into the park grounds. The beginning of the hike starts from the bottom near the lake. Signs give a clear direction, parking inside the park is $8.

The 3.75 mile hike starts at SR-67, on the South side of the Cal Fire Station access road.


Want beautiful photos?

If you’d like pictures like mine, check out my photography guides:

Beginner’s Guide to the Best Photography Equipment
The Ultimate Guide to iPhone Photography: Tips, Accessories, Features, Apps
The Ultimate Guide to GoPro Accessories + Tips



Before you head off to this”bush-walk” (that’s what the Aussies call it), here are five things to note:

1. It’s scenic enough to spend the whole day there. You can drink and swim on the lake or take the kids for a picnic.

I’d spent my morning at the gym and my afternoon biking on the beach. Had we planned this better, I would have been kayaking at Lake Poway midday.


2. Bring a friend to motivate you. Seriously, it’s 7.5 miles.

It’s worth it, and it takes the average person about 2-4 hours roundtrip (so they say, I don’t know how long it took us as we continued to stop for filming). It’s a 1,700 feet of elevation gain. Regardless, you’ll be fine. Honestly, I saw kids and puppies on the hike.

TravelBreak.net - Potato Chip Rock, San Diego

3. Park outside of the gate so that you can stay for the sunset.

Laws may or may not have been broken in the making of this blog post. If you’re okay with that, bring a flashlight.

If you are going to catch the sunset, you might want to park your car outside of the park because it closes at 8pm, which means you’ll have to hop the fence on your way out.

TravelBreak.net - Potato Chip Rock, San Diego

4. Consider the back route.

We met a couple and learned something new. Apparently, the infamous eight mile hike has an alternative trail, so you could just do a quick photo op. Of course, you have to choose where you park before you start the hike. This is the short trail from SR-67.

TravelBreak.net - Potato Chip Rock, San Diego

Photo collaboration with @TysonTravel

5. Fuel up! Bring water and snacks.

In case you’re a skimmer and didn’t read the captions for #3 and #4 – bring water, snacks, music to keep you going, and FYI there’s no porta-potties on the hike, so use the one in the picnic area.

You’re welcome.



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Tips and Photos for the San Diego - Potato Chip Rock Hike | Hours, Parking, What to Wear and other Trail information | from the travel blog travel-break.net



  1. Nancy Thomas July 15, 2014 at 3:45 am - Reply

    Have lived in Poway for 24 years and that is the absolute best write up on Potato Chip Rock Great advice for the novice and beautiful pictures!

    Nice Job Stephanie and Travelbreak!

    • Stephanie Be July 15, 2014 at 5:31 am - Reply

      Thanks Nancy! I had a really great time at Lake Powell and Potato Chip Rock. Cheers!

  2. Jo July 15, 2014 at 6:28 pm - Reply

    Great photos. Just to clarify, swimming isn’t allowed at Lake Poway. I wish it were! Also, I definitely would NOT recommend this hike for little ones or dogs. There is nearly 2,000 feet elevation gain in the 3.5 miles up to Potato Chip Rock.

    • Stephanie Be July 17, 2014 at 12:57 am - Reply

      Hi Jo,

      Thank you for providing the information. I did see several people swimming in the Lake would have had no idea that it wasn’t allowed! I’m sure that everyone who chooses to take their kids and pets doesn’t do the whole hike. I think it’s a nice atmosphere for families regardless 🙂 It’s a lovely place!

  3. Elena February 16, 2018 at 6:53 pm - Reply

    Hi, one friend told me that, potatoe chip trail have two options or way to do. One road it easy to other. It is true? What options I have to take the trail. Thanks

  4. A Traveler Shop February 18, 2018 at 5:40 am - Reply

    Wow, that’s a beautiful view out there. We are just kilometer away from Poway and we haven’t hike there yet. My husband and I will do it first. We are going to check the place first before we bring our children. Thanks for sharing your adventure here.

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