Lake Poway to Mount Woodson

potatoe-230151

Mount Woodson

Trail Distance: 8.7 Miles
Best time to hike: Year Around
Directions:Lake Poway and Espola Rd
Review 0
Hiking Trail
7.3 10 35 Overall
Users 6 (35 votes)
Difficulty6
Scenery8
Map Info8

LAKE POWAY TO MOUNT WOODSON

I did this hike on a Saturday afternoon. I only ran into three other hikers the whole way up. You start the hike at nice public park in Poway and follow a fire trail that overlooks the Poway dam for about 3 miles. The trail narrows as you start to climb the mountain. The trail is well marked and kept in great condition. The trail gets steep at times but overall I would give it a 6/10 for difficulty. The view from the top amazing on a clear day you can see the ocean, Downtown San Diego, Iron Mountain HWY 67.
Maria G.

“Up took 2 hrs and down 1 h 20 min with two teenagers. 3 bottles of water feels like a minimum, snacks or sandwiches also. Was 97 degrees when we got back to the parking. Nice hike with beautiful views. The earlier you leave the parking the better since it gets hot. And no swimming in the lake. ”

Henry /span>San Diego ,Ca

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What other hikers say... 35 Help fellow hikers by leaving a review of this trail
love this hike
I try to do this hike once a week. I'll get there when the gates open at 6am on sunday. I got a few more people to go with me the past few weekends because we are training for a Spartan race and this is the perfect spot to perform our hill climbing. My most recent climb was this morning and I made it up and back in 1 hour 25 minutes.
March 16, 2015, 5:35 am
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July 6 2014
Up took 2 hrs and down 1 h 20 min with two teenagers. 3 bottles of water feels like a minimum, snacks or sandwiches also. Was 97 degrees when we got back to the parking.

Nice hike with beautiful views. The earlier you leave the parking the better since it gets hot. And no swimming in the lake.
July 6, 2014, 3:59 pm
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Mt Woodson from Lake Poway
I've hiked it twice. Great hike. From the Lake Poway trail head its 3.7mi to the top w 2000' of elevation gain. (says my Garmin Fenix gps) If you're in a hurry you can make it round trip in under 3 hrs fairly easy. Faster if you run. An easy cruz w stops is more like 4 hrs of hike time.

My first trip up was last summer w my 25 year old son in 103deg heat with a 40 lb back pack. We were training for a backpacking trip we knew would be hot. This can be a great training hike. Put some weight in your bag and you can change the difficulty from a 5 to a 8 in a heart beat.

Yesterdays trip was w my wife at a cruz pace. I should clarify, cruz pace for me...borderline difficult for her. Still very enjoyable for both of us. The weather was perfect at about 60 deg. Although the trail was empty on the hot day, not so on a Sunday with cool weather. There were at least 150 people waiting in line for photos on Potato Chip Rock and a constant passing of people up and down the trail. Kinda like being at the zoo.

Everyone was super friendly but I'm not wild about crowds and will pick a week day for my next trip.

I would not hesitate to take my 10 year old grand children. (if you're doing math, they are not the children of my 25 yr old son)
February 10, 2014, 9:47 am
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Awsome
Ok it was not that hard a hike and I did it with a bike I would up load photo if I could. I took me three hours up and one hour down and I was scared but well worth it
February 16, 2013, 8:11 pm
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Question about this hike
I want to do this hike with my dog - can someone tell me if dogs allowed on the trail [she would be on a leash]? Thanks.
February 4, 2013, 1:22 pm
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still kicks my butt
i've down this hike 3 times this month and it still kicks my butt every time. fyi, there's a $5 park entry if you are not a poway residence. there are nice bathrooms at the park before your hike. as a woman, i appreciate that! :) the signage is cofusing about total distance - looks to me to be 8.4 miles round trip but there is no sign that gives total distance. first part is just a lot of steady uphill walking on a wide, even dirt road - maybe 40 minutes? then you start climbing some short steep switchbacks once you make the left turn. that's the hardest part with raising your feet higher to step on rocks. the last 1.3 miles to the summit is actually easier than the middle so if you make it to the shady tree overlook where a lot of people rest - don't give up since you've just completed the kick-butt part! most people stop at the potato chip rock just below the communication towers. that's pretty much the top unless you really want to walk the last few feet to see a bunch of towers and wires! i take 3 bottles of water but usually only drink 2. i bring the extra for the idiots who only brought 1! see a lot of young people try this in flip flops, guys with no shirts, no water bottles. just plain stupid. wear shoes with good traction, bring and drink water, bring a snack for a break at the top. good thing about reaching the summit? - if u r in decent shape you can jog all the way back! love this hike. great, great workout! oh - and it's busy enough on weekends to do alone, even if your female, as there are plenty of others travelers. safety in numbers but bring your cell too!
July 28, 2012, 3:29 pm
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Mt Woodson
We hiked Lake Poway's Mt Woodson trail on a very warm Saturday in the late afternoon. As Pennsylvania natives, we were surprised by the absolute lack of shade/trees in general, and so the hike was pretty hot. Mt Woodson is virtually all up hill on the way to the summit, and the incline is palpable. View from the top is of the city, resevoir, and surrounding peaks. Very nice. The trails are very well maintained, so it doesn't feel particularly rustic or authentic if that is what you are looking for.
June 30, 2012, 8:52 pm
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Social Trail Running for Warriors!
We have this hike scheduled for 12 May at 10am! We have a big group of active people who love getting outdoors! Look us up!
www.ZTActive.com
Facebook.com/ZTActive
April 28, 2012, 12:50 pm
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Definitely check this trail out!
My boyfriend and I decided to try this trail since there was warm weather last weekend. Based on everyone else's ratings and reviews, we figured it wasn't as intense as the 3 sisters hike out in Ramona. This particular hike was totally worth it to climb to the summit. Our goal was to take some photos of the potato chip cliff which surprisingly, wasn't that crowded and was really cool to climb. It's all uphill since you're hiking up the mountain, so the way back is fairly easy (going downhill). We were able to jog almost the whole way down. It is a longer hike so bring lots of water and snacks. We brought lunch and ate on the summit overlooking San Diego all the way to the coast. It was a great view and totally worth the effort. I highly recomend this to anyone who's looking for a mini outdoor adventure.
March 5, 2012, 6:29 pm
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Worth it!
Very steep, so be sure to bring plenty of water and energy. It's also a pretty long hike only because of the intensity of the trail. There are bikers so watch out for that, and is also very rocky so watch your step. There's the legendary potato chip rock sitting close to the peak which makes the hike worth going on in the end. The way down isn't bad at all since most of it is downhill. About a 5 hour hike.
August 1, 2011, 1:24 am
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INFO
I was just wondering if this was a good hiking place for kids as young as 7, since Cedar
Creek Fall's was closed I been looking for new places to take my kids please somebody email me and let me know, I will really appreciate, thanks.
July 10, 2011, 10:29 pm
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Great Hike
Today was a hot day 90 degrees I believe as we started our hike at about 2pm. In our group we had two five year old girls, one six year old boy, one ten year old boy, one fifteen year old girl, and two adults. Remember to bring ALOT OF WATER at least three liters per person if you are going to hike this in the summer time... you can do anything while hydrated. This is a nice solid 4.4 mile to the top of Mt. Wolfson. Then 4.4 back down... mind you it is still work coming down. Bring some sturdy hiking shoes/boots. Something for electrolytes as you are going to sweat alot!... We all made it to the top in about 2hrs. 40 min... on the way back about 2 he's and
July 4, 2011, 1:45 am
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Great *HOT* Hike
It was definitely hot yesterday. Good thing we brought lots of water. At certain points in the path, it looked a little too skinny and full of shrubs that at those points, I was wondering if I was still on the right trail. Good stuff all around. Check out http://www.elijahnicolas.com for my Garmin Connect Data.
June 16, 2011, 4:46 pm
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easy hike
weather was bit hot but it was fairly easy hike. trail is well marked and dog friendly~
June 5, 2011, 2:41 pm
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Mount Woodson Trail
This trip was amazing! I had a wonderful time with my husband when we saw Lake Poway we got in shock. Its waters are so clear. There were lots of huge stones.
March 5, 2011, 6:15 pm
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Just what I wanted 4 X+
I'm in holydays in San Diego, and decided to take a hicke in this trail....just great
December 24, 2010, 12:18 am
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Mt Woodson Trail
fyi the elevation of Mt Woodson is 2894 ft MSL. Pretty much all uphill once you leave Lake Poway trail.
I hike this trail 5-6 times a year and everytime I hike it I see something new or different. Lots more brush this year since the 2007 fires burned through most of the trail. If the winds are off the desert [dry air] you can see both Catalina and San Clemente islands. When the air coming is off the water, the water vapor distorts the long range view. But it is nicer hiking as it is cooler. Not much shade and is on the southern side of the mountain, so prepare for hot sun and dehydration. Also are snakes ocassionally.
September 4, 2010, 2:41 pm
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Great Trail
Not as long as the rest of the review say. It took us an hour and 45 minutes to get to the top, then almost an hour to come down. We are about 140lbs with a 40lb backpack. Pace yourself the first 3/4 as you'll come to some fairly steep switch backs, then the rest of the way is back to normal. The top has some pretty serious radio towers, but there are plenty of places you can find to hide them from your view!
July 25, 2010, 4:00 pm
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Great Trail
As a newbie to SD I finally made the trek to Poway Park and experienced the trails I have read so many comments on...I arrived at the park at 8:00 this morning with a nice layer of clouds blocking out the sun but by the time I arrived at the Mt. Woodson trail head that layer had burned off. The trails are very well posted and as many have commented the Mt Woodson trail narrows as you make the climb...I thought I was in pretty good shape but the hike really taxed me and I was starting to wonder if I should turn around about a half mile from the top...while the way up was tough on my back and upper legs, the way back down was pretty tough on the calfs and feet. The trail shoes I used were a little too soft soled...any suggestions on a good trail shoe/hiking boot hybrid? Wonderful views all around...there were quite a few people out this morning on the trails but always going the opposite way. Enjoy!
June 20, 2010, 12:46 pm
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TOUGH hike
So this is my second review because what actually happened with my experience at this hike was that I started at the bottom of Mt. Woodson right off the 67. I wasn't really paying attention and did not start at Lake Poway. So we started the hike walking up Mt. Woodson which is a 2.2 mile steep curvaceous road. At the top of that was the top of the peak where the radio towers are. We then proceeded and continued our hike down to Lake Poway. After relaxing at the lake for 20min we hiked back up to the peak and back down Mt. Woodson. The hike ended up being a good 13 miles. If you want a good challenge I recommend this path. If not, REMEMBER to start the hike at Lake Poway Park and not off the 67.
May 30, 2010, 12:36 am
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Good hike!
So I'm actually going to review this twice. Once for just the Lake Poway trail to the peak. So my buddies and I went out today to this trail around 11am, so we started a little late. It gets really hot due to the lack of shade so bring a hat and a good amount of water. Its a pretty good steady incline to the peak, with some parts a lot stepper than others. So make sure you conserve some energy. There are a couple of spots along the way where you can stop to rest in the shade, one being behind a large rock and the other under a tree. The view is rather nice up as others have mentioned. My favorite spot is actually on top of this cracked boulder. Its like a ledge that goes out over the mountain. It can be kind of dangerous getting to it, but its quite relaxing to just sit there and relax. It's also a popular photo spot as a lot of people were getting to that spot to take a picture. No doubt a new facebook profile picture for many!
May 30, 2010, 12:29 am
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On top of the World
We are new to San Diego, and were looking for a place to go for a hike, and found the website, took the top rated hike and really enjoyed our day. feet are nice and sore and spirit is nice and high. Was great day, not a cloud was in the sky, we could see the ocean, with the late afternoon sun shimmering a golden light... we made it to the radio towers and felt at home. met a guy there who told us the elevation at the top was around 2600 feet. I was most impressed when we saw the mountain from the i 15 and it really felt like a day.

the big question.? what next?
May 29, 2010, 12:31 am
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Hiking is Great!
I've been up mt woodsen the past 4 sundays in a row. Excellent workout. Last sunday the low lying fog was beautiful once we got above it. Well maintained. At a casual pace its about 4 hrs. Power hiking with a trail run back down its about 2.5 hrs (and about 2,000 calories).
May 2, 2010, 11:25 pm
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Great Hike
This was a fun hike..some nice steep parts. Very clean trail (minus the dog poo). A couple BIG snakes where spotted. Bring plenty of water, especially if you start later in the morning or afternoon.
April 19, 2010, 1:14 am
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Awesome
This was a great hike. There was many other hikers but not too many. Everyone was very friendly and the hike was great. Not too hard and not too easy. Completely worth your time!
March 13, 2010, 6:16 pm
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Great Hike!
I just did this alone, it was a great hike...If your in decent shape I don't believe you will run into a lot of issues. I would say I am above average fitness level...So I rated the hike a 4 for difficulty.

The Scenic view is great - it was a little cloudy so it was great to see the clouds.

Great day!
February 22, 2010, 11:47 am
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Hike for the physically fit
Beautiful hike--you can see all the way out to the ocean on a clear day. Definitely worthwhile for the incredible views. Beware that you will be climbing all the way to the top. I slept well after this hike:)
February 3, 2010, 10:54 am
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Awesome!!
Started this hike Saturday morning. There were quite a few hikers. Maintenance crews were on duty maintaining the trail. Well maintained and great scenery. Bring plenty of water! The last three miles are almost all uphill and really challenging. Amazing view all the way around!
February 1, 2010, 1:13 am
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Beautiful Scenery - Lots of 'hiking up!'
We're new hikers, relatively fit, and enjoyed this hike immensely. We did 4.8 miles, 2.4 in and out. 'In,' was nearly 100 % upward; a great (albeit unexpected) aerobic and an-aerobic workout.

My calf muscles were speaking to me the next day, not complaining, just letting me know that they hadn't been used in a while like this.

Take your time on the way up, bring plenty of water, and enjoy the scenery. We were lucky enough to spot an amazing eagle overhead.
December 21, 2009, 2:45 pm
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Awesome hike
I agree SD Hiker. This hike is nowhere as crowded as Iron mountain. The sun will be at your back during the afternoon and there isn't much shade to take breaks at. I suggest wearing a hat and bringing plenty of water. There's a paved road and a radio station at the peak that you get to poke around as the fruits of your labor. Awesome hike.
August 16, 2009, 3:03 pm
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Worlds away from the city!
To be honest this has got to be one of the best hikes I have been on in all of San Diego.

The trail begins with a steep ascent on a relatively wide dirt trail. Once you hike about 3/4 mile up the trail, the Mt. Woodson trail will be clearly marked and you will begin the ascent to Mt. Woodson. The main part of the trail is about 5-6 ft. across and is well maintained. Be careful about being the first one on the trail because there are many spider "webs" that you will have to push through. The latter part of the trail nearing the top is singletrack and becomes very steep. I was very satisfied with the difficulty of the trail. I was pushing a relatively fast pace and reached the top in about an hour.

Just FYI the gates for the park opens at 7am for this early birds...
July 17, 2009, 9:23 pm
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First hike in California!
just did this hike on wednesday morning with 6 other people from work. they say it takes about 5 hrs up and back, we made it up to the summit in 1 hr 45 min and down in 1 hr. we made the entire trip, drive, hike and drive back in just under 4 hours. we weren't trying to go for a time but made due very well. beautiful scenery from along the trail and especially up on the rocks!
July 10, 2009, 5:35 pm
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This is one of the best hikes in SD
I love this trail. It is only minutes out of Poway but a world away. This trail is much better than Iron Mountain
December 22, 2008, 5:10 pm
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Great Place to HIke
This is one of my favorite places to go hiking
December 21, 2008, 1:19 pm
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Nice place
Thanks for information ;)
December 12, 2008, 1:41 pm
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David Hay

by David Hay

An Aussie transplant living in San Diego. I've chosen to live in this fair city for the past seven years because I truly believe it's one of the best in the world; there's no better city to enjoy sunshine and the outdoors.