Monday, May 13, 2013

My Top 2 San Diego Hike: Mt. Woodson from Blue Sky Ecological Reserve

I Believe I Can Fly :) - near Mt. Woodson Summit
Hiking to the summit of Mt. Woodson from Blue Sky Ecological Reserve is my favorite peak bagging hike in San Diego. One of my first few posts in this blog is Hiking Mt. Woodson (May 3, 2009). That post discusses the several hiking options to reach the summit. Hiking Mt. Woodson is the ALL TIME MOST VISITED POST in this blog. The most researched keyword in this blog in various search engines is Potato Chip Rock.
Me @ Potato Chip Rock
Sometimes, I am surprised that the searches are not limited to San Diego residents only, but scattered all over US. This trail, has somehow become one of the more popular hikes in San Diego. What I like most about this hike is that it is very accessible. It is within an  earshot from civilization, yet once inside the trail, the civilization disappears while the wilderness sets in.
Matilija Poppy @ Blue Sky Ecological Reserve Trail head
Hiking from Blue Sky Ecological Reserve is not the most popular route however to the summit of Mt. Woodson. Most people hike to the peak via Lake Poway ( 7 miles round trip, 2300 ft elevation gain/loss) or Highway 67 (3.6 miles round trip, 1200 ft elevation gain/loss). For more details of the several hiking options to summit Mt. Woodson, please visit my previous post here
Blue Sky Ecological Reserve Trail
Why do I love starting from Blue Sky Ecological Reserve? Blue Sky Ecological Reserve is one of the finest examples of a riparian woodland. It has more than a mile of lushly shaded canyon bottom. The shade comes mostly from coast live oaks. After a wet winter, wildflowers appear abundantly about April. There were more than 100 kinds of wildflowers identified in a single year at Blue Sky.
Wildflowers @ Blue Sky ( CA everlasting, bush mallow, matilija poppy, wild rose )
Aside from wildflowers, what attracts me in Blue Sky is the likeliness of spotting hawk, vulture, and other birds.
Hawk @ Blue Sky
Also, Blue Sky Ecological Reserve parking is free year round, whereas, the parking at Lake Poway is $5 from April- October ( except for Poway residents where day use of Lake Poway Park is free year round).

Let me bring you to the hike:

Mileage ( Blue Sky- Mt. Woodson) - approximately 10 miles round trip
Change in Elevation- approximately 2500 ft elevation gain/loss
Parking: Free Parking @ Blue Sky Ecological Reserve Parking Area

The hike starts flat at Blue Sky Ecological Reserve, being at the bottom of the canyon. After about 1 mile at Blue Sky,  a side trail on the right goes toward Lake Poway. Take that trail, where you will pass Blue Sky Ecological Reserve Campground. 
Will Hike Rain or Shine ( @ the campground )
After the campground, the trail climbs gradually. At the junction of Lake Poway Trail, you have a choice to take the trail at the left or at the right. We usually take the left trail on the way up to Mt. Woodson ( slope here is gentler than the trail on the right), 
 Osprey @ Lake Poway
and then, take the clockwise direction on the way down from Mt Woodson, if we wanted to spend more time at Lake Poway after hiking to the peak.
Lake Poway
After a wet winter, the hillside of mountains around Lake Poway usually burst into different colors. It is a sight to behold.
Wildflower Filled Hillside At Lake Poway ( after a wet winter )
Field of Blue Canterbury Bells 
The wildflowers usually start to bloom March and fade away May. 
Lake Poway from Mt. Woodson Trail
After rounding Lake Poway, you will see another trail junction, if coming from the East side of lake, take the left trail. If coming from the west side of lake, take the right trail. Or the trail that continue to climb up. From here, the hike continually ascends and round several mountains, before reaching the summit of Mt. Woodson.
Wildflower Lined Trail
At about the middle of the hike, you will start seeing giant boulders. Mt. Woodson is actually littered by giant boulder outcrops, thus this place is not only popular for hiking, but also for rock climbing. Mt. Woodson is also known as "The Mountain of the Moonlit Rocks."
Boulders On the Way to Mt. Woodson Summit
Boulders at Mt. Woodson
More Boulders
Perhaps, the most famous boulder in Mt. Woodson is the Potato Chip Rock, which is near the summit.
 Potato Chip Rock with some dusting of snow
Us @ Potato Chip
From Potato Chip, the summit is about 0.2 mile further up. What I do not like at the summit are the antenna towers, which reminds me that I have not escaped civilization after all. :(
More Boulders at the summit
At the summit, we usually look for our boulders to picnic on ( have some light snacks). We usually take the boulders that face Iron Mountain, my top 5 San Diego hike. 
Facing Iron Mountain ( the most visible and tallest peak )
GO HIKE! let us enjoy the benefits of hiking
 Let me share a quote from Socrates,

 “ Wisdom starts with wonder."- Socrates

It's a joy to wander and wonder in our wonderful world!

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  1. back to jumping days...
    potato chips!!? is that the name?

  2. that potato chip is so tricky.. was wondering how on earth you're standing atop something with minute mountains on your foot.... so it's indeed a chip-like stuff mounted above - so beautiful!

  3. I have a dream.

    That's to hike wherever you have hiked.

  4. I can't do what you do,Betchai. I can't hike in rain but I can hike during winter even it is 2 degrees outside. I know its funny but I usually get sick if I'm wet on rain or I don't do anything if it's rainy days but to stay at home .lol.Wow! you're in number 2, can't wait for the number 1.

  5. First of all, love all the photos!!! Second, I like that shirt :) and third, you're one of the most fit and most adventurous blogger pal I know. I wish I have the stamina that you have. I'd probably be in every scenic place I can find in the US. :) While I love nature, I just like the posing part of it but my arms and legs are not well coordinated. They're good for shopping and malling only! hahahaha

    Also, that Potato Chip rock looked fragile from afar. Isn't that rock thin or something and yet you can stand on it without fear of splitting or breaking it. Amazing works of God indeed!!!

    Ria C

  6. That's the most amazing photos that I've ever seen. I love how you took the first photo. Elevation to the highest level! Love it love it and love it!!

  7. Beautiful nature pictures as usual. Looks like you had lots more rain than we did in Northern CA. You found some secluded places to hike and relax.

  8. Parang nakakatakot yaNG potato chip rock hehehe. It's amazing how they are formed!

  9. Woohoo! Look how beautiful nature and the view is :) Beautiful pictures as well :-) You live in a beautiful city too :-) I never go hiking before and I bet I get tired before I started hiking :-( Out of shape here :-)

  10. hay naku! i so envy you! you're always out and about! I really appreciate that you're sharing your experience to us. :D tc!

  11. I love that first shot! You look like you are flying! So cool!

  12. Betchai!!!!! weeee my mental guess was right about what will be the top 2 hike for you.....and this once more made my dream of sitting beside you at potato chip rock burn like happy fire...gee I still have a challenge post unfulfilled...posing like a log like you here hahaha...the blue skies, the flowers and your joyful joyful shots make me say..."it is a beautiful world!".....pssstttt is number one....A.L.? hahahahaha :D

  13. I can only say WOW to the Potato Chip Rock. It looks so awesome.

    I love that quote by Socrates.

  14. That Potato Chip summit is so amazing. I just don't know if I can sit there like you did. Such lovely photos you have here.

  15. I like all the shots!
    They're so amazing!
    I envy gals like you with the stamina to hike and explore nature. However, my interest is more on malling and shopping. Might be the reason why I need to workout and set a goal to hike Mt. Apo!

  16. weeeeeee, you are right Beth! tama hula ko, this would be in your top 1 or 2. an all-time favourite place to see you and ktl is atop the potato chip rock. wish we could join you there someday. :)

    can't wait for the top 1!