Best Trails in Topanga State Park
Amidst the gorgeous Santa Monica Mountains in the land north of the Pacific Palisades lies a preserve of more than 11,500 acres. Topanga State Park is considered “the world’s largest wildland within the boundaries of a major city.” But when you’re here, you will feel like you’re worlds away as you hike the seemingly endless miles of natural landscape. Here you can relax in shaded oak groves and enjoy ocean views from chaparral-covered ridges.
The trails throughout Topanga are mostly all interconnected, so it is possible to combine two or more trails for longer hikes. Check out the trail map here. With so much land to explore, we’ve narrowed down the best hikes in Topanga State Park that offers beauty, splendor, and a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of life in L.A.
Eagle Rock Trail – 4.5 miles, 800 feet
Arguably one of the most exciting hikes in Topanga, Eagle Rock boasts panoramic views. It’s got a craggy surface yet is well-maintained, and there are several ways to get to the 1,957-foot summit. Leaving from the Trippet Ranch trailhead, take Eagle Springs Fire Road to Eagle Rock, and return via Musch Trail for a great loop hike. The total distance is 4.5 miles, with about an 800-foot elevation gain.
As you ascend in elevation, your views of Topanga Canyon and the Santa Monica mountains will grow more splendidly. Along the way, tufts of oak trees can be found here and there, and you may even spot a mule deer or two. Topanga Lookout is especially lovely. Then there is Eagle Rock itself; an impressive block of sandstone jutting out of the chapparal with its distinct Swiss cheese-like exterior. Once you reach the peak at 1,700 feet, relax and enjoy the view, or explore the sandstone alcoves and arches before heading back down.
Parker Mesa Overlook – 5.7 miles, 900 feet
Featuring one of the best vista points in Topanga, the Parker Mesa Overlook has amazing views of Santa Monica Bay and the Pacific Ocean. As with many of the attractions in this park, there are several ways to get here. But the route we suggest is to begin from the southern end of East Topanga Fire Road at the top of Paseo Miramar.
The vegetation along the trail is mainly sagebrush and grasses, with broad views and lots of sun exposure, so bring your hat and sunscreen! The occasional pocket of trees does offer some shade when you want to pause and take in the views. Best of all, once you reach the overlook, a couple of benches provide a nice place to just soak it all in (provided they aren’t already occupied by fellow hikers!) The sunsets here are particularly mesmerizing. Just be sure to pack a flashlight should you decide on a sunset hike.
Los Liones Trail – 2.6 miles, 500 feet
Weaving up a lush canyon in the south end of the park, this trail offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean just a mile away. It is lined with ivy and chaparral, with glimpses of Santa Monica Bay below. The hike begins on the right side of a cul-de-sac at the end of Los Liones Drive in the Pacific Palisades. At the top of the trail, a nice bench will beckon one to take a load off and just savor the view of Santa Monica Bay, where the slow-moving waves roll onto shore and on a clear day you will see as far as the Palos Verdes Peninsula and even Catalina Island.
This hike is best experienced in the morning hours before it gets too hot, as there is little vegetation to protect you from Southern California’s sometimes unrelenting sun rays.
Corbin Canyon – 2 miles, 150 feet
For an easy hike a bit off the beaten path, this 328-acre section of Topanga stretches into the mountains from Tarzana and Woodland Hills, with shorter trails that are set apart from the Santa Monica Mountains. Corbin Canyon is a partial loop trail with not much elevation gain; good for those who don’t want to commit to a full-on hike.
Here you will notice that the trails are a bit underdeveloped with no markers, but with this short of a trail, you don’t really need them. To reach the trailhead, take the 101 and get off at Exit 25 for Winnetka Ave. then turn left onto Wells Drive. After another ½ mile, turn right and the trailhead is at 4000 Corbin Ave.
Santa Ynez Falls – 2.5 miles, 250 feet
This trail is popular with families, especially those with young children, and is an easy hike with not a lot of elevation gain. It follows a shaded creek to a gorge with a nice but short waterfall. Begin the hike by descending from the gate on Veranda de La Montura along a single-track trail. Concrete stepping stones allow you to cross the water which flows down a runoff channel.
As you hike through the dense forest, you will encounter several creek crossings with babbling waters. At the 0.6 miles mark, veer right at the junction to continue towards the Santa Yzez waterfall. Hike this trail during springtime and take in the blooming lupines and purple nightshade in the meadows along the way. Continue to follow the water, and when the canyon walls begin to close, you know you are close to the 18-foot waterfall, with pretty Maidenhair ferns draping luxuriously on either side as the falls spill into a shadowy grotto.
How To Get to Topanga State Park
You have your pick of numerous trailheads found along the park’s edges. But we recommended driving into the park and heading to the main trailhead at Trippet Ranch. Take Topanga Canyon Road inland from the Pacific Coast Highway and drive 4.6 miles to Entrada Road. Or if you are coming in from the 101, drive 7.7 miles south on Topanga Canyon Road to Entrada Road. Turn east on Entrada and drive up the mountain for a mile where you will see signs for Topanga State Park. There is a $10 day-use fee required to park your vehicle at Trippet Ranch, however, there is free parking along the road outside the park boundaries if you want to walk. The park is open from 8 am to sunset. You can also read our blog post about - 10 Fun Things to Do in Topanga Canyon.
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