Monday, October 27, 2014

Potato Chip Rock Hiking Trail aka Mount Woodson Trail

mount woodson poway lake where to hike in san diego

Potato Chip Rock has been on my bucket list for a little while now.  I had put it on my vision board to complete this year, and "BAM" I got it done.  I LOVE how that works.  I put it out to the universe, and the universe answers.  It actually came up at a networking event that I had this hike on my bucket list, and this awesome person volunteered to hike it with me.  We formally connected on LinkedIn later that week, messaged each other, and set a time and date.  I swear, if you want something done, complete a mind map and put an expiration date on that puppy.  It has worked for me every time.

where is potato chip rock ramona lake poway backside trail
I researched online everything I could about the hike so I would be prepared.  That's the A-Type personality coming out.  I decided the backside trail was the one for me.  There is a trail that starts from Lake Poway but it is a little longer, and if there is one thing I usually like to avoid, it is crowds.  A long line can start to form to take photos on the infamous rock, and if I could help it, I wanted to get there early enough that I would not have to wait.  The backside trail had the advantages of being shorter, having no parking fee, and also no official park opening so we could start anytime we wanted.  We had a winner.

My new friend and I met right off the 15 South at 5:15am on Saturday and carpooled to the start of the trail at CAL FIRE Ramona Fire Station.  What we did not really prepare for was how dark it was.  I had taken note that the sun did not rise until about 7am but I did not really contemplate what that actually meant.  Hence, I am ever so thankful that there is a flashlight function on the iPhone.  We used that the whole way up.  As we parked on the shoulder of the 67, it truly felt like we were setting the scene of a horror movie.  I did not share this with my new friend, because I did not want to scare her, but I have to say, it was pretty spooky finding our way up the mountain in the dark.  Thankfully the trail proved to be pretty well laid out, and it was only the intermittent noises in the dark that caused us to jump, pause, and scan our iPhone flashlights around to make sure no one was sneaking up behind us.  All in all, probably because of the adrenaline and fear, we hiked up that trail in 1 hour and 20 minutes flat.  It was actually still dark when we arrived at the rock.  There was another group already up there as well who were also waiting for the sun to rise.
mt woodson trail backside route hiking san diego
Overall, it was a really great experience.  It was a little scary jumping to the actual Potato Chip Rock itself, but I just told myself it was easy and went for it.  It all turned out fine.  It was gorgeous to see the sun rise over the rocks and I snapped one of my favorite photos during that time.  I would highly recommend this hike.  At some point, I will have to try the trail from Lake Poway, but for now, the backside trail from Ramona was perfect.

Here are my Tips for this Hike:

  1. Go to the bathroom way before you leave as there is no bathroom on the backside trail like I have heard there is on the Lake Poway side.
  2. Take a flashlight if you plan to start before the sun rises.
  3. Bring lots of water.  I brought two bottles but only drank half of one.  It is always a fine balance since you are also trying not to drink too much so you do not have to go to the bathroom.  Thankfully we hiked most of it in the dark, and it was a nice cool day.  I am sure in the summer or later in the day, you would need both bottles of water.
  4. Bring some snacks.  I packed some turkey jerky, Kind bars, and a Quest bar.
  5. Think of your poses ahead of time.  Search the hashtag #potatochiprock on Instagram for ideas so you know exactly what you want to do.
  6. Bring your phone or camera.  I used my iPhone but I kind of wish I had brought my camera so the resolution would have been better.
  7. Pack a first aid kit and some antibacterial hand wipes in case you scrap your knee or worse. 
  8. Finally, have fun and roll with the punches.  There will be lots of people up there.  It has become quite the local attraction.  Be friendly and smile.  Everyone wants to get their picture on the rock, and they hiked quite a ways to get it.  Be patient and kind.
What are your favorite hikes in San Diego?  Have you done this one?

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