A 7+ mile semi-loop in one of the Los Angeles area’s most accessible parks. Some classic, Sycamore-covered SoCal geography, with meadows, boulder formations and outcroppings, and rolling chaparral ridges. Excellent views of the Pacific Ocean, the Santa Monica Mountains and — if you’re lucky — the far reaching sprawl of the Los Angeles megalopolis.
Topanga State Park is the largest state park in the Santa Monica Mountains and the largest State Park inside L.A. City Limits.
What’s important for hikers is that the park is big, has a very-well designed and labeled system of trails, and is accessible from several different approaches. From the north, you can enter off Reseda Blvd. through Caballero Canyon Park, from the south, entrances are just off Sunset Blvd. through Will Rogers and Temescal Gateway Parks, or through the Pacific Palisades neighborhood. Or you can enter from the western end of the park, from Topanga Canyon’s Trippet Ranch.
I hadn’t been to this park in a long time, although it was one of the first places I started hiking in Los Angeles. On a Monday afternoon, the Trippet Ranch parking lot was almost empty, and the air had just enough of a chill to require long sleeves. In other words, perfect.
After just over a mile of hiking on the fire road, you’ll start to make out the monolithic face of Eagle Rock, rising dramatically from the rest of the surrounding landscape.
Once you reach “Hub Junction,” it’s less than a mile south to meet up with the Rogers Road Trail, which will be the only time you’ve stepped off a fire road on this route unless you chose the Musch Trail at Trippet Ranch. If so, it will be – by far – the most forested section of the trail for you.
From there, it’s back down to the fire roads and just under 3.5 miles back to Trippet Ranch. If you’ve got energy left, you can join the park’s joggers and try your hand at trail-running … or you can just take your time, and maybe get to enjoy the sun setting behind the mountains in front of you.
Excellent. Most of this route is on fire roads, but the trails in Topanga State Park are well-worn and well taken-care of.
A backcountry, first-come, first-served campground is available off the Musch Trail. Flush toilets and water are available. No fires allowed.
Take the Pacific Coast Highway north from Santa Monica to Topanga Canyon Boulevard. Head north on Topanga Canyon for 4.7 miles. Just past the village of Topanga, bear right onto Entrada Road and follow the signs for Topanga State Park for 1.1 miles. Parking inside the park itself requires a fee, but there is limited free parking on the roads outside.
Learn about new trail guides, outdoor news, and events in the free Modern Hiker Newsletter. All original content and guaranteed not to flood your inbox -- new issues usually come every 2-3 weeks.