Enjoy One of San Diego’s Most Unique Hikes – Potato Chip Rock Hike!

This past weekend my destination editor headed out to popular hike in the San Diego area, Potato Chip Rock. Potato chip rock hike is one of the more popular hikes in the San Diego area! It is located near Poway, CA and is known for the amazing photo opportunities! Potato chip rock hike is a must-do for locals and visitor’s alike. It is definitely a more difficult hike, with a killer incline at times (hello leg burn). However, the scenic views and the rock make it all worth it. Don’t worry, it is definitely family and pet-friendly (as long as they are on a leash)!

Enjoy One of San Diego’s Most Unique Hikes – Potato Chip Rock Hike!

Potato Chip Rock Hike Rock

Trail #1: Lake Poway Route to Potato Chip Rock

There are multiple ways that you can get to the Potato chip rock. One of the more popular trails is to start at Lake Poway. This trail is about 8 miles round trip (4 miles one way) with about 1,700 feet in elevation gain. The potato chip rock hike should take you about 3-4 hours. There is very little shade throughout the hike, so definitely come prepared with plenty of water, sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat.


I do suggest packing some snacks, as the potato chip rock hike is rated as difficult, and is a long day hike. The trailhead is about 5-10 minutes off the freeway (located at 14644 Lake Poway Road, Poway, CA 92064), and it does cost $8 park. The parking lot does open at 6 am. Try and park in the top parking lot, as the trail starts near the bathrooms. This will lead you around the lake for about a mile before you get to the actual trailhead.

I cannot stress enough to come prepared with plenty of water and snacks because this hike is more on the moderate side, as it has a significant elevation gain to the summit. It basically inclines the entire way. The trail itself is unpaved but is well maintained and pretty easy to follow all the way to the top. Once you reach the top of the mountain you’ll still have about half a mile to the rock, but it’ll be so worth it! You’ll be able to see the rock before you get to it from this trail.

Once you get there be prepared to wait in a small line to climb on the rock and get your picture taken. This place does get a little crowded, so it’d be best to start the hike early in the morning. To get on the potato chip rock, it does require that you do a little bit of climbing. Don’t worry, it is nothing too difficult, and it is not as scary as it looks!

Potato Chip Rock Hike Signs

Trail #2: Highway Route to Potato Chip Rock

Another way that you can hike up to the rock is the trail that starts right off of highway 67. You can park right on the side of the road for free, and the trailhead starts right off the highway. Once you park you’ll head over towards the driveway that leads to the fire station. You’ll come to a hiking trail sign and a sign that directs you which way the potato chip rock is. Follow the signs through the dirt path and you’ll eventually hit the paved road, indicating you’ve made it to the hiking trail. This is where the hike actually starts and you’ll have an incline the rest of the way. This side does not have any bathrooms, so make sure you stop and use the restroom before you get there! This trail is shorter than the other one but is inclined the entire way.


The potato chip rock hike offers little to no shade, so come prepared with water, snacks, and plenty of sunscreen. This trail is paved for most of the hike and is very easy to follow. I recommend taking this route if you plan on bringing any children along. It has less of an elevation gain and won’t take you as long to travel. This route is less scenic, and sometimes, government workers that maintain the power lines will drive up the road.

This trail is known to be less traveled than the Lake Poway trail, so it is a good alternative if you aren’t into crowds. Once you reach the top you’ll see some buildings and antenna arrays on your left. Once you get past the last antenna, the rock will be located on your right! If you parked on the road off the highway, make sure you go down the same way you came. If not, you’ll end up on the other side by the Lake, so keep in mind it is an out and back trail!

No matter which route you take, Potato Chip Hike is a great place to get some good exercise and also a cool Instagram worthy picture. I highly recommend going early in the morning to beat the crowds and the heat. Enjoy the hike!

You might also enjoy:

40 Things to do with Kids in San Diego (20 are FREE!)

Airbnb San Diego 11 Amazing Houses that are Perfect for every budget!

Kayak the Incredible La Jolla Caves + Enjoy a Food Tour in Coronado!

Pin for later – Enjoy One of San Diego’s Most Unique Hikes – Potato Chip Rock Hike!

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.