Written by Zach Erick
Are you interested in a workout that allows you to be outside and enjoy many different views of San Diego county? Then Mount Woodson is a great destination for you!
Every weekend I attempt to do a workout that is not CrossFit related. I try to use the metabolic conditioning and strength I’ve gained at Invictus and apply it to an activity that I don’t do very often. This past weekend that activity was hiking Mount Woodson, a.k.a “Potato Chip Rock.”
Mount Woodson is 30 Miles away from Downtown San Diego, located in Poway, and it only takes about half an hour to get there. The trailhead is located at the beautiful Lake Poway, which is also a prominent fishing destination. The current cost to park is $5 if you are not a resident of Poway.
I left at 6am and started the hike roughly around 6:30. You want to leave early for many reasons. First and foremost, the heat! Although we have finally beat this heat wave that recently struck San Diego, it is still extremely hot during the day when you’re 30 miles inland. If you get to the park as the sun is rising, you have set yourself up for success. Arriving early allowed us to hike in the shade for about 70% of the way up, and in a modest climate in the mid 70’s. Arriving early also benefited us with a very quiet hike. If you’re like me, someone who enjoys getting lost in nature and feeling as if you’re the only one around for miles, arriving at the trailhead early is the only way to ensure this feeling.
The hike is about 6.5 miles round trip. The Trail is clearly marked the entire way, and is mostly made up of soft gravel and dirt with a few rocky patches every mile. This hike is of moderate intensity depending how hard you are pushing yourself. It took me about 2.5 hours round trip, with a few water breaks and stops to enjoy the view. The first mile of the trail is extremely wide and hilly – it was almost a leisurely waltz through nature. After the first mile the trail narrows about three people wide, and the incline steadily increases shifting that “leisurely waltz” into a hike. The majority of the trail are switchbacks, with no technical climbing or hiking involved. This is a great hike for the whole family (as long as you have enough water).
As you summit the Mountain you have spectacular views of the San Diego Mountains, Pacific Ocean, and Mexico. About a quarter mile before the summit is the Famous “Potato Chip Rock”. Once again, arriving early will allow you to avoid a line to take a picture on the rock. After a quick kodak moment and walk to the summit, we headed back down the mountain. Now that the sun was fully risen and at full force the temperature was much higher with little to no shade the entire way down. Sunscreen and a hat are a MUST for this hike! Bring lots of water, some friends, and have fun!