Woodson Mountain is famous for the boulders that litter its chaparral-covered slopes, providing hundreds of bouldering and toprope problems for climbers, in addition to providing practice for aid climbing techniques. Several trails access the peak, where views stretch from Point Loma to Cuyamaca Peak.
Chris Metzler, geology professor at MiraCosta Community College, states that the boulders on Mt. Woodson "form in place by spheroidal weathering, where joints in igneous rocks allow weathering to proceed, thus transforming angular blocks into rounded boulders."
According to Jerry Schad, the local Indians called this the Mountain of Moonlit Rocks, and later pioneers called it Cobbleback Peak. It was mapped as Woodson Mountain in honor of a prominent homesteader who moved here in 1895, confederate dentist Dr. Marshall Clay Woodson, and now it's best known as Mount Woodson.
East approach via paved service road
From I-8: From I-8 E or W, take CA-67 north for roughly 17.1 miles
From I-15: Take the Scripps Poway Pkwy exit and drive east for roughly 8.7 miles, to the junction with CA-67. Turn left (north) and drive on CA-67 for approximately 4.7 miles.
Parking: Park off the road on the right (south) shoulder of CA-67 near the intersection with Hedy Dr. Watch for the California Division of Forestry fire station on the left. Park on the dirt shoulder, where other vehicles will likely already be parked, and carefully cross CA-67.
Trail: Head south along CA-67 on a trail that parallels the road until you run into a single lane, asphalt road. Follow this road to the summit for 3.6 miles round trip and 1200' gain/loss.
West approach from Lake Poway
From I-8: From I-8 E or W, take CA-67 north for roughly 14.2 miles to the Poway Rd exit. Go west on San Diego County Route S-4 a.k.a. Poway Rd for 2.6 miles, north on Espola Rd for 2.8 miles, then east on Lake Poway Rd for 0.7 miles, which will put you at the park entrance.
From I-15: Take the Rancho Bernardo Road exit east for roughly 4 miles and make a left on Lake Poway Road, which you follow to the park entrance.
Parking: Parking is $4 at Lake Poway unless you buy a fishing permit.
Trail: Follow the signed Lake Poway Trail around the east side of the lake to the junction with the Mt. Woodson trail. Go left at the Fry-Koegel trail and head up the ridge from the viewpoint. Roughly 8 miles round trip and 1700' gain/loss.
See Philip Erdelsky's excellent Woodson trail map to clarify routes or create your own variations.
Mt. Woodson offers hundreds of boulder and toprope problems from 5.3 to 5.13, but it is famous for its highball cracks. Many routes are right on the road, most are accessed via a maze of trails, and many more are only a bushwhack away.
Dave Kennedy's San Diego County Climbing Guide
Craig Fry's Southern California Bouldering Guide
Professor Keith Brueckner's invaluable 1987 phamphlet
100+ routes at Mountain Project
Woodson topos [pdf]
Growing source of beta at climbingsandiego.com
Overview at San Diego Climbing Guide
SuperTopo forum threads
Hardest Woodson Offwidths
Great Woodson climbing pictures, stories, and history
Poway Mountain Boys
A current trip report by one of the original Poway Mountain Boys, including more pictures and history.
No fee or permit to hike Woodson from the CA-67 trailhead. Parking can get crowded on CA-67, but it's free. If hiking the west approach from Lake Poway, you can avoid the Lake Poway day fee by parking in the Blue Sky Ecological Reserve, 0.5 mile north of Lake Poway on Espola Road, then walking to the lake.
The "Mt. Woodson Castle", a 27-room, 12,000 square foot stone mansion built in 1921, and now the centerpiece of a golf club.
The only degree confluence in San Diego County, at 33N 117W.
The metavolcanic soil may support the rare Heartleaf pitcher sage, and the Felt Leaf Monardella grows on the top of the mountain.