Cool canyon trails, glorious ocean views: You need to take this hike

This popular walk in the Santa Monica mountains offers cool canyon trails and glorious ocean views. But it can get crowded, and it can be hot. Go early, bring plenty of water and plan on having a snack break or a picnic at Parker Mesa Overlook.

Signs warn to keep an eye out for rattlesnakes and mountain lions. It’s also a good idea to keep an eye (and ear) out for speeding mountain bikers, with whom you share the trail.

1. Take Entrada Road off Topanga Canyon Boulevard and follow the signs for Trippet Ranch. Wherever you leave your car, walk to the far end of the parking lot and find the Trippet Ranch Trailhead. Start walking uphill on the wide dirt path.

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2. Stay on the main path — helpfully marked trail — and after a short climb turn right at a T-intersection, following the signs for Parker Mesa Overlook and Pacific Palisades.

3. Stay on the main dirt road as it meanders through old oak groves, rising and falling with the landscape. Down to your right, you can see Topanga Canyon Boulevard as it winds down toward the Pacific Coast Highway. Over to the left, you can see the top of the Palisades Highlands residential area and traces of the Santa Ynez Canyon Trail.

4. After about 3 miles, at a Y-intersection, turn right next to a public restroom. Continue an additional 1/4 mile, following the signs for Parker Mesa Overlook.

From left: Eddie Jakubauskas, Richard Jakubauskas and Irmantas Gradzevicius were at the Parker Mesa Overlook , looking at the coast on Topanga Canyon's Trippet Ranch Trail.
(Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times)

5. On a clear day, you can see Palos Verdes, LAX, the Santa Monica Pier, the Getty Villa, Catalina Island, Malibu and more. Sturdy benches here, carved with inspirational messages, help you take in the view.

Return the way you came, turning left at the public restroom and staying on the main road back to the Trippet Ranch parking lot.

The stats


Distance: 6.5miles

Difficulty: 3.5 on a scale of 1 to 5

Duration: 2½ to 3 hours

Details: No dogs allowed on trails. Bicycles welcome. $10 fee parking in lot, with some free street parking — but mind the signs.


Fleming is the author of “Secret Stairs: A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of Los Angeles” and “Secret Walks: A Walking Guide to the Hidden Trails of Los Angeles.” Each month, he leads a free walk at one of his favorite spots in Southern California. Find out more at his Facebook page, Secret Stairs. He can also be reached at

Twitter: @misterfleming


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