Trail to Best Hidden View of Santa Monica
EAGLE ROCK TRAIL + Topanga Canyon | CA
Some people may think the best place to catch a beach sunset is on the beach, but we can offer you something even better if you're near Los Angeles. To get there, you’ll take a gorgeous drive through Topanga Canyon. It's a winding canyon of huge oak trees, overlooks, and quaint towns. The road takes you from the valley westward to the ocean where Santa Monica turns into Malibu. Our favorite local secret lies somewhere in between, just off of Topanga Canyon Rd: Topanga State Park.
The park features seventy-six miles of trails and is known to be the largest state park within a city limit in the U.S. It's a little tricky to find, so be sure to search for 20825 Entrada Rd, Topanga, CA 90290. When you enter the parking lot, head to the right, pass the bathrooms, and you'll find where the trailhead begins. Here you can take Eagle Rock loop trail, Musch Ranch loop trail, or hike to Will Rogers State Historic Park via Rogers trail.
We opted for the quickest path to Eagle Rock, which is roughly 4 miles round trip. If you want to take this trail, be sure to turn right at the first fork, then the next left. This route leads to a massive sandstone formation with a full overlook of Santa Monica and the ocean. Along the trail, you’ll see rolling hills, mansions in the Pacific Palisades, Santa Monica, and on a clear day Venice. When you get to the destination, there’s no sign directing you where to stop - so look for the trash cans on your right, cut past them, and you will find the giant rock just beyond.
If you time the hike right, you can reach the peak as the earth's night music begins to play and the lights of the coast start to twinkle. The view at the top will have you signing "The Circle of Life" from the Lion King... but the exploration doesn’t stop there. On the side of the rock, you can find a small natural cave that hides a public journal. Climb down, flip through other people’s memories, and then leave behind a thought or two of your own.
Important note: About 70% of the trail is exposed so don't expect much shade. When you start the trail, you’ll walk through a pretty grove of trees but that quickly ends as you head uphill. Bring suntan lotion, sunglasses, and a hat to protect yourself from the sun. Also don’t forget closed-toe shoes because there are tons of ants and even rattlesnakes. We spotted a HUGE snake at the beginning of our hike which had our hairs standing up the rest of the way!
TIPS & TRICKS
Parking lot hours are from 8:00 AM until sunset. The entrance gate closes promptly at sunset but the exit gate stays open even after dark. If you visit at night, you can park outside of the gate and still walk in.
You’ll most likely come across bikers on this trail. Be careful when they pass: dirt gets kicked up as they ride by, so keep your mouth closed - we learned the hard way!
Sadly, dogs are not permitted on the park trails, fire roads, or in the back country, so leave your furry friends behind.
If you're hiking during a full moon, you can complete most of the hike with no additional lights. You'll only need a flashlight when you’re under the trees, but you can use your phone so no need for a headlamp.
If you're looking for more hikes around Los Angeles, be sure to check out our page on Murphy's Ranch - an abandoned Nazi camp in LA’s backyard!