What It’s Like Hiking Up Potato Chip Rock

The Traveling Asian
The Traveling Asian

Ever seen a picture of a rock that looks like a Potato Chip on Instagram or Facebook? Well that rock is the famous Potato chip Rock down in San Diego, California.

Many people who visit San Diego, makes it a point to visit this famous location. Including me! It has been on my bucket list for quite some while after I saw so many wonderful pictures about this rock.

After all, it is unique, and where else will you find a rock that looks like a Potato Chip? Plus getting to this rock is not easy, as you have to hike quite some time in order to get to it.

Location

Located in San Diego, California, there are actually a few different ways you can enter through for this hike. With one being the shorter route and one being the longer route.

The proper hike from the bottom of Lake Poway starting at the parking lot is about 8 miles long, which will take about 3 to 4 hours. If you take the back route, the hike is only about 3.75 miles long or 5.5 miles as a loop which can take about 2 to 3 hours.

The address to Potato Chip Rock is : 14644 Lake Poway Road, Poway, CA 92064

First Thoughts

Going on the hike to Potato Chip Rock has been always one of my goals. After all, I just had to take a picture with a rock that looks like a Potato Chip!

When I first googled the length of the hike, it didn’t seem too bad at first. Plus I went on a weekday in which I figured there wouldn’t be a lot of people hiking as well.

However once I got there, it was a whole different story.

Like I mentioned earlier, Potato Chip Rock has two ways for you to enter up. The short way and the long way. I didn’t know this at first but I picked the shortest route because I didn’t have much time as I had something to do later on the day. That was a mistake. The shortest route ended up being the hardest route because of the heavy incline. I tilted my head upwards in amazement at just how high this mountain of a hike was.

Oh boy was I not prepared.

So thus begun my journey up the hill.

Getting Up The Hill

When I first came to the entrance of the hike, I was met with a bunch of people coming in and out. I was confused at first as to why so many people were here on a weekday, not to mention the early afternoon.

I apparently entered through the back route which is a much shorter hike up the hill, however it was a much harder experience.

I started to hike up the trail and immediately I could feel the blaze of the sun shining on my back. It was a very hot day. I only carried one water bottle with me as I wasn’t expecting the hike to be so tiresome. I ended up huffing and puffing the entire way through and had to take multiple breaks a long the way to catch my breath.

I have done many hikes before in my life but something about this short route on this hill was really making me regret my choices. It was probably one of the hardest hikes I have ever done in my life so far.

I even managed to make a friend while hiking up the mountain as I could tell he was in the same situation as me and were were both suffering from this hike.

However one thing was for sure, the sight you get to see while climbing this hill was definitely worth it. The hill was surrounded my many boulders all of varying sizes. If you love to take pictures, you definitely need to come here. Not only the boulders, but if you look out into the city you can see a really beautiful view of the surroundings.

It took me a total of 4 hours to get from the bottom of the hill to the top.

And oh my lord, I was disappointed.

Can you guess what I was disappointed in?

My only goal and reason to ever climb this hill was to take a picture of that amazing iconic Potato Chip Rock.

When I managed to finally climb all the way to the top, I was met with a line of probably over 100 people waiting for their turn to take a picture with the rock. Not only that, but the Potato Chip Rock itself was a tiny piece probably not even 5 feet long and ultra thin.

I felt like I been deceived from all those glamours Instagram pictures of the rock.

However even with the rock not meeting up to my expectations, I was definitely filled with joy from another thing. The sight you got to see of the surrounding areas on top of the hill. It was very beautiful and well worth the hike.

Tips For This Hike

Pick your trails carefully

Now like I said earlier, there are multiple entrances to this hike.

Whatever trail you decide to pick is totally up to you. Each trail has their own pros and cons. For instance the short trail that I did, it was a lot harder to climb up because of the steep incline which made me go up a lot slower. However on the way down, the steep incline made me go down way faster but it also hurt my knees. Plus there were many large boulders along the way which made the hike a lot better as the view was just amazing.

Wear the right gear

Since this is a hiking trail, you have to treat it like a hike. You need to wear the right shoes that have good grip so you don’t slip all over the place. Also wear breathable clothes so that you can feel cool during the hike. A hat can also do wonders as it protects you from the heat.

Bring water

This is incredibly important when you are about to do this hike. There are no water stations or anything along the way so it is crucial to bring some water. Enough to last multiple hours as this hike can easily go up to 3 to 4 hours or longer. Especially with the heat, it is important to be hydrated.

Best time to come here

This hike is getting more and more popular as time goes on. Even the city is starting to consider building a new parking lot for this hike because of all the people wanting to come take a picture here.

With this place being so popular, one has to wonder when would be the best time to come here.

Well I have some tips for you!

Start in the early morning

Early morning hikes are probably your best option if you want to come here and take a picture with Potato Chip Rock.

The reason to come in the morning is because you can avoid the mass amount of people that will be coming to this hike. This allows you to take your time taking a really awesome picture with the rock without being rushed. Most people come around noon time so if you come earlier than that then you should be in good shape.

Not only that, but the weather will be cooler in the morning than in the afternoon. Who wants to hike in 90 degree + weather? That isn’t fun at all. The best time to start your hike is probably before sunrise as the view on top of the Potato Chip Rock during the sunrise is amazing.

Go during a weekday

It’s pretty obvious that weekdays are normally better than weekends. If you were to come on the weekday, you will likely not see as many people compared to if you were to come during the weekend.


This hike was a pretty nice hike to do. Even if I didn’t really like the Potato Chip Rock that much, the overall hike was pretty good.

Depending on which trail you pick, it can be hard or easy. However no matter which trail you pick, you are guaranteed to have some amazing views in store for you.

So hopefully this review is able to help you better understand how Potato Chip Rock is.

Also if you are interested in reading some of my other posts about traveling, you can do so by clicking these links:

Or you can check out all my blog posts by click this link.

Hope you have a safe and fun trip~