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Inspiring Point of View From Topanga State Park

Topanga State Park, located on the urban edge, is surrounded by civic sprawl but retains its rural character. Highlights are handsome sandstone cliffs and lush canyon bottoms.

Most walkers and picnickers enter Topanga State Park from the main entrance off Topanga Canyon Boulevard and figure it’s the only way into the park. Few realize that there are about half a dozen ways to reach the park by road, a dozen ways by trail.

The state park, sometimes billed as the largest state park within a city limit in the United States, has entrances on the San Fernando Valley side, where an unpaved portion of Mulholland Highway crosses the park, and it has a couple of entrances on the Pacific Palisades side as well.

One of these Palisades paths is Los Liones Trail, which travels through Los Liones Canyon to East Topanga Fire Road. East Topanga Fire Road does not, as its name might suggest, lead east-west. Rather, it travels more or less north-south, but does so on the east side of Topanga State Park.

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This walk leads to a viewpoint sometimes called Parker Mesa Overlook, sometimes called Topanga Overlook, but most often simply called The Overlook. Views of West L.A. and the sweep of Santa Monica Bay are superb. Sunset views are often inspiring.

There are two ways to reach the inspiring viewpoint. Los Liones Trail climbs through its namesake canyon to East Topanga Fire Road, which in turn leads to The Overlook. Or the hiker may head directly for The Overlook via the fire road.

From The Overlook, the ambitious day hiker could trek into the main part of Topanga State Park.

Directions to trail head: To Los Liones Drive trail head: From Pacific Coast Highway in Pacific Palisades, turn inland on Sunset Boulevard a quarter of a mile. Turn left on Los Liones Drive and follow it to road’s end and a small parking area. Don’t park in the adjacent church lot.

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To East Topanga Fire Road trail head: From Sunset Boulevard, proceeding inland, the next left after Los Liones Drive is Paseo Miramar. Follow this winding road through a residential area to its end at the vehicle gate across East Topanga Fire Road. Park safely and considerately on Paseo Miramar.

The hike: From Los Liones Canyon, march past the vehicle gate and follow the trail into the canyon. After a quarter of a mile, the trail begins to climb in earnest, switchbacking through the chaparral.

After leveling out for a stretch, the path then switchbacks even more earnestly through thickets of ceanothus. Los Liones Trail intersects East Topanga Fire Road about a quarter-mile from the road’s beginning at Paseo Miramar.

Turn left (northwest) on the fire road and continue your ascent. For a short while the road travels a cool north slope and you get good over-the-right-shoulder views of neighboring Santa Ynez Canyon, a canyon that is wild and dramatic in its upper reaches in the state park and atrociously subdivided in its lower reaches outside park boundaries.

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A two-mile ascent along the fire road brings you to a junction with a trail leading south along a bald ridge. Join this trail, which travels half a mile to The Overlook. On a clear day, enjoy the panorama of Westside L.A., Santa Monica Bay, Palos Verdes and Catalina Island.

Return the same way.

Pacific Palisades, Santa Monica Mts. Los Liones Trail, East Topanga Fire Road Where: Topanga State Park Distance: Los Liones Drive to The Overlook, 6 miles round trip, with 1,500 elevation gain; from Paseo Miramar to the Overlook, 5 miles round trip, with 1,200-foot elevation gain. Terrain: Rugged Los Liones Canyon is but very much apart from the Westside city scene. Highlights: The Overlook offers grand views of West Los Angeles and Santa Monica Bay. For More Information: Call the California Department of Parks and Recreation (Santa Monica Mountains District heqdquarters) at (818) 706-1310, or the Mountain Parks Information Service at (800) 533-7275. Degree of Difficulty: Easy to moderate.


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