Topanga State Park spans 11,000 acres with 36 miles of trails that wind through a wide variety of terrain, from canyons and cliffs to hills and meadows and some of the most spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean Los Angeles hiking has to offer. It also features tons of cool geologic formations meticulously designed by volcanic activity, millions of years in the making. If you’re an astutely observant explorer you can find a bevy of marine fossils and, if you’re up for the challenge, yes, even those elusive and shifty earthquake faults.
With over 60 different trail entrances, it can be quite overwhelming just to pick a spot to start, but my suggestion would be to enter the park’s main entrance at 20825 Entrada Road, Topanga, Ca 90290. There is a $10 fee to park in this lot, which I have no problem paying considering the desperate financial trouble our state parks are in right now, but you can generally find free parking on the numerous side streets, if you want to add a bit more mileage on to your day’s hike.
Topanga State Park is plucked right from the front of the most stunning postcard you’ve ever seen. All you have to do is walk 20 steps from the parking lot and you’re standing in the middle of a scene straight out of a Tim Burton film, surrounded by the crooked, twisted, welcoming arms of hundreds of ancient live oaks.
Under the shade of this live oak grove, there are many picnic tables and clean bathrooms, making it the perfect place to lounge, play hide and seek, read a book, meditate or have lunch. Walk a few more steps past the picnic area, to the head of the Trippet Ranch Trail and it’s as if you’ve walked smack dab in to a living, breathing Monet. We saw four artists masterfully painting this portion of the trail which conjured up memories of traveling through the french countryside. All that was missing was the Jambon-Beurre on a crispy baguette.
As you make your way up the curved incline you will come to a fork in the trail. To continue on to Eagle Rock, bear left.
This portion of the hike guides you along well-maintained trails through rough chaparral, oak forests and sprawling grasslands. Being a mixed-use trail, you’ll encounter hikers, bikers and even the occasional meandering horse, so watch out for their little presents along the trail!
One of my favorite things about the Trippet Ranch Trail up to Eagle Rock, other than the fact that it’s kid-friendly, are the numerous secondary trails which pop up out of nowhere, allowing extra opportunities for exploration and discovery. None of the informal trails we took actually led anywhere in particular, but when hiking, we’re never in a real rush to get to any place specific anyway. On one of the secret little side-trails, we found a perfect spot for lunch, though, then continued on our wandering way.
As is the norm when hiking with kids, we never did make it all the way up to craggy, panoramic views of Eagle Rock, but we surely found our destination as we arrived back to our car, three hours later, with our imaginations well-used, a nature-calmed mind and de-stressed muscles.