Potato Chip Rock – Hiking Guide For The Best Pictures

Potato Chip Rock – Hiking Guide For The Best Pictures

You may have seen a photo of Potato Chip Rock on your Instagram feed. Flat, thin and, well… chippy, hence the name. Potato Chip Rock is a famous hiking destination in the San Diego, California area. During my girls trip to San Diego this summer, we spent a day hiking to the rock and boy did I learn some serious lessons about hiking up Mt. Woodson. It’s not an easy hike, and getting that perfect picture of Potato Chip Rock isn’t easy, either. Read on for my full Hiking Guide To Potato Chip Rock and Tips On How To Take The Best Picture and also to watch my San Diego vlog.

Hiking Guide To Potato Chip Rock

There Are Two Ways Up The Mountain and I hear we went up the hard way. Gen, my friend, is a firm believer in doing the harder hike because it’s shorter and thus quicker. I thought it was one of the hardest hikes I’ve ever done, and mind you I once spent 3 hours scaling a mountain on New Years Day while still hungover. I did really enjoy the boulders on the hard path, but this is your warning – it’s really hard.

  • The hard and short way: 16310 Highway 67, Ramona, Ca
  • The slightly easier but longer way: 14644 Lake Poway Rd, Lake Poway Park, Poway, Ca

Bring LOTS of Water as there aren’t any stations to fill up along the way. We ended up being on the hike for about 4 hours, in the full sun, on a 95+ degree day. So, bring enough water.  I love hydration backpacks like this.

Early Morning Hikes are your best option for two reasons. First, you’ll beat the heat and make the whole hike a more enjoyable one. I can tell you that hiking in almost 100-degree weather is NOT fun at all. Secondly, you’ll beat most of the crowds that flock to the mountain to take photos of Potato Chip Rock. Plus, I hear the view of the sunrise is amazing up there. Secret third bonus reason?

Potato Chip Rock hikePotato Chip Rock San DiegoPotato Chip Rock San Diego


Avoid The Crowds At All Cost. To support my previous tip, many people will be hiking the mountain all with the goal to get an epic picture of Potato Chip Rock. We went on a Wednesday afternoon in the middle of summer and ended up having to wait about 20 minutes for our turn on the rock. We got off easy! When Gen went before, she had to wait almost an hour and the line stretched incredibly far. So, avoid the crowds by hiking early or better yet, go on a week day. Do not go hike on a weekend if you want to stand on the rock as you’ll have to wait in a very long line!

Take Photos From Two Sides when it is finally your turn to snap the rock. The first, from on top of the rock so you can get that sweeping view of the valley below. Then, have your photo buddy get off the rock and take a photo from the side so you can get the “chip” angle. Make sure to play with your body and bring props if you want! You hike far, you deserve your photo op.

Wear The Right Shoes because climbing over the rock involves some low-key bouldering. I tried to wear just sandals but Gen brought me a pair of tennis shoes which were a life saver. Better yet, wear hiking boots! I recommend a pair like these.

Watch Out For Rattle Snakes along your path. You can usually find them curled up on a rock asleep, so they are easy to miss. Make sure you don’t sit down on one and that you take the time to thoroughly scan your surroundings before sitting or setting things down. Also, remember to listen for their “rattle” sound in case one is on the move around you.

Be Prepared To Pee In The Woods as there aren’t any bathrooms anywhere on the mountain. You’ll probably be too dehydrated anyways but hey, had to put that out there.


I hope this guide helps you get the best photo of Potato Chip Rock possible and helps you have a fun hike! Please leave a comment below if you have questions or any tips to add!


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