Hikers park along state route 67 in Ramona to access the Potato Chip Rock trail. Photo: County of San Diego

The County of San Diego plans to spend $1.7 million on 84 acres of backcountry land in what it says is an effort to safeguard hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts who visit Mount Woodson and the popular Potato Chip Rock trail.

With its March 27 vote to purchase the property, the County Board of Supervisors took a step toward the possibility of building a parking area for visitors who walk along Highway 67 in Ramona to get to the destinations.

Part of the land could be used to build a parking lot, or as a connection to a currently inaccessible 18-acre parcel the county already owns where a lot might be built, county officials said.

Although the City of San Diego owns and operates the Potato Chip Rock trail, hikers often traverse through unincorporated Ramona for eastern access to the trail. Because there is no off-road parking, visitors now park along both shoulders of state Route 67, then walk alongside and even run across the highway’s 60-mph traffic, county officials said.

With the board’s approval to buy the land, county staff will begin design work, conduct an environmental analysis to determine what improvements can be made and return to the board in the future with recommendations. County staff is also in conversations with City of San Diego staff regarding operating the area once improvements are made, according to county officials.

In addition to the possibility of a parking lot, the 84-acre property includes “moderate to very high-quality environmental habitat,” including chamise chaparral, oak woodland and coastal sage scrub–land that county officials said is located within its Pre-Approved Mitigation Area of its Multiple Species Conservation Program’s (MSCP) North County Plan and could be added to the MSCP reserve.


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