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January 05, 2018

Potato Chip Rock via Blue Sky Reserve - an alternate west side trail

The title is a teaser … I doubt that many have heard of the Blue Sky Ecological Reserve, but everybody has heard of Potato Chip Rock.  And most everybody who has been to the chip has taken the west approach up Mount Woodson from Lake Poway.   The entrance to the Blue Sky Reserve is less than a mile north on Espola Road (S-5) from the entrance to Lake Poway.

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Jim and Gayle along with Suzanne did this hike together a while ago with great success – nobody at the top!  Jim and Gayle have some fun pictures of the group hamming it up on the chip.

Josh of California Through My Lens has done an excellent job of documenting the Lake Poway approach.

Lake Poway charges for parking on weekends and holidays (currently $10) and the lot can be full.  My hike today is to document the Blue Sky Preserve as an alternate approach, with FREE parking.  OK it’ll add a beautiful partially shaded ~2 mi RT to the hike over parking at Lake Poway.

The Blue Sky Reserve is located in 700-acre  long and thin canyon with trails that connect to Mt Woodson, Lake Poway and Lake Ramona.  The side trails may have a little more up-n-down than the main trail, which is also a maintenance road.  The canyon is lined on both sides with Coastal Live Oak, at times forming a tunnel.
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Today the restrooms at the picnic area were closed.  However porta-potties are located along the main trail and at various locations along Lake Poway.  The picnic area is quite spacious, with lots of trees I know grandson Jm would love to be climbing on.

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Just past the picnic area the first view of the Lake Poway dam comes into view.  And it’s decision time, Lake Poway? Lake Ramona? both?
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My original plan was to go to the snack bar at Lake Poway and return to compare the two west approaches to Mt Woodson.  I decide to stick to that plan, which is ~2 mi RT longer than returning at the Mt Woodson trail that leads up to the Potato Chip.

As the trail climbs I get the first views of Lake Poway.  The center of the second photo is my destination, the snack bar at the main parking lot.

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The kiosk just past dam had the map of the route up Mt Woodson.  At this point I’m about 2 mi from the parking lot at the reserve, on the north side of the lake just past the dam seen as the white bar at the west end.  Not far beyond the trail intersects with the Mt Woodson trail.  Potato Chip Rock is on this side of the summit, figure 2 mi and just under 1800 ft up.
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There’s just a few fishing at the lake, but gaggles of kids on the trail now, all wanting to do selfies at the top.  The dam at Lake Ramona looks a lot closer than it is
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Tony Gwynn “Mr. Padre” was a Poway resident, a statue now stands in his honor at the Lake Poway ballfields.  I sat here with Tony while enjoying a PB&J burrito.
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I never did make it up to Lake Ramona, I’ll save that side trip for another day.

Of the two trails from the west, Lake Poway is shorter and the park offers more amenities.  The trail from Blue Sky Reserve is more interesting, with some shade.

However, I prefer the east approach, which has more shade, it's shorter and can be done as a loop, I blogged that hike HERE.

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