A Guide to Potato Chip Rock
Truth be told, the only hikes I’ve been on prior to this were in the Philippines and they were nowhere as steep as the paths of Potato Chip Rock. I was mostly used to hikes involving flat ground and a bit of hopping from one rock to another to avoid falling into streams.
This made the route to Potato Chip Rock way more challenging.
I remember telling Vergs that we had to be out the door at dawn because we didn’t want to catch the crowd and the afternoon sun – the strong rays can be a hiker’s nightmare. But as luck would have it, we had one too many rounds of “5 more minutes” and instead, woke up at sunrise. After packing a few extra clothes and grabbing some munchies to nibble on, we were finally on our way!
Btw we would’ve been lost had it not been for this little sign and the line of cars parked near the freeway.
There are two ways to get to Potato Chip Rock. One is through Poway Lake and the other is via Ramona mountain, which is the route we took. Now, what most people do is go up and down the same route, and it makes sense. After all you would’ve parked and left your car at the location of your starting route. But since we wanted to see the sights of both, we went up Ramona mountain and went down via lake Poway.
Once we finished, we decided that we couldn’t walk any further and booked an Uber to bring us to our car. Haha!
Ramona Mountain route
The differences between the two routes are uncanny. The Ramona mountain route has one of the steepest asphalt paths I have ever been on, which is both a pro and a con on its own. Pro being that you don’t have to climb so many steps and the con being that it can take a toll on your calves.
We started the path off in a happy state, excited for all the calories that would be burned, but really we could only take so much walking at an uphill for so long. We ending up stopping a few times to drink a swig of water, take a breather, and to just be completely floored at all the views we had before us.
Besides the amazing views, another thing I loved about the Ramona route is how we could choose to stray off the asphalt path to go on top of the rocks. It got our hands a little dirty, but the price to pay was nothing compared to the sights that welcomed us.
We spent a good 20 minutes just sitting on one of the boulders, marveling at all our eyes could see. There were rocks upon rocks scattered all over the land, ones so big you’d think they were nests of dinosaur eggs left behind. It wasn’t like anything I had ever seen before. And boy was it breathtaking.
Lake Poway route
If the Ramona route was decked with giant boulders and greenery, Lake Poway was the complete opposite. First off, the path was laden with a lot of steps – which would’ve made a great leg and butt work out if we were going uphill to be honest. The area was also too sandy for my liking. It’d be good to note as well that this route had no shade whatsoever, something that we took for granted on the Ramona route, what with all the towering rocks.
Perhaps the only saving grace of a Lake Poway descent is the lake itself that meets you at the bottom.
Potato Chip Rock
& now we move on to the main event, the reason why the husband and I even thought to venture out on a hike like this in the first place: Potato Chip Rock.
The thing about Potato Chip Rock is that unbeknownst to us, it wasn’t exactly the peak of our trek. Don’t get me wrong, it was a highlight of course. But we weren’t at our highest altitude once on it.
Do note though that it doesn’t mean it scared us any less.
To get to the actual Potato Chip Rock, we found that we had to jump from one rock to another. This would’ve been fine if we didn’t see how far off the bottom we were atop the rock. If I recall, I think the distance between the two rocks was about 2-3 feet, which shouldn’t be a problem for regular hikers.
I, on the other hand, was terrified. Had Vergs not carried me across, I honestly wouldn’t have gone through with it.
Yes, I was carried. Props to the husband who regularly went to the gym and worked on his arms that week.
Once we were on the rock, all was peachy and good. The sun was shining, the views were fantastic, and the people we were with were kind enough to take our photos.
I’ve read about people being on the same rock who weighed twice of what we did and it remained strong throughout. So there was really nothing to be worried about. Frankly, all I cared about at the time was getting our photos taken and being so proud of the husband and I for checking off an item from our bucket list.
Also, we made it in one piece!
Planning a trip to Potato Chip Rock soon? Here are my tips!
- Arrive early in the morning or at least choose to go on a weekday to avoid the crowd.
- Bring at least 1 big bottle of water. Trust me on this. The heat can get pretty intense.
- Pack an energy bar. Odds are you’ll get hungry during or after your hike.
- Be careful where you step as you descent. Some rocks can be slippery.