Mt. Woodson Trail - Hiking

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Mount Woodson Trail is a difficult 6.4-mile trail that offers up some wonderful views of Lake Poway and the surrounding area.

Written by

Taylor Reilly


6.4 miles

Destination Distance From Downtown

22.2 miles


4 of 5 diamonds

Time To Complete

4 hours

Half Day


All Seasons

Dog Friendly


Fees Permits


Parking fee for non-residents.

Land Website

Mt. Woodson Trail



Mount Woodson is tallest peak in the area, and is also known as the "Potato Chip Hike" due to the famous geologic formation at the top. The hike weaves through a maze of chaparral and granite boulders, with few flat sections. Mount Woodson is a very popular place for San Diego Locals to come have a run or hike, and as such, it can get pretty crowded on the weekends.

What Makes It Great

The Mount Woodson Trail is a somewhat difficult 6.4-mile route that features steep uphill segments, which are probably unsuitable for beginners. In fact, even experienced hikers and trail runners are often challenged by this trail. That being said, if you're up to the challenge, you will be rewarded with beautiful views of Lake Poway, Palomar Mountain, and the surrounding area. 

The trail is well-marked and maintained, but can be quite steep and narrow in several sections. The summer can be extremely hot, so be sure to bring lots of water. There are no restroom facilities here. 

Regardless, you'll definitely enjoy spending time at this great destination, and you won't want to miss Potato Chip Rock once you reach the top of the mountain. 

Who is Going to Love It

If you come prepared (both physically and with water), you will really enjoy this hike.  It's a tough one, with 2,000 ft. in elevation gain in just over 3 miles, but the views at the top are worth it. 

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

The trailhead for this hike is located to the right of the lake at the the Lake Poway Recreation Area (14644 Lake Poway Road).

Written by Taylor Reilly for RootsRated.

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Mt. Woodson Trail

Mt Woodson Trail
Poway, CA, 92064
33.00492, -116.995867

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