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The Best Hikes in Santa Monica Mountains NRA National Park

56 Triplog Reviews in the Santa Monica Mountains NRA National Park
Most recent of 24 deeper Triplog Reviews
9.09 mi • 1,970 ft aeg
Rivas Canyon Trail
This was my first time on the Rivas Canyon Trail, and I really liked it! From Temescal Gateway I normally either hike the canyon or ridge trails to get up on top of the ridge to Skull Rock and beyond. But having done that the day before I decided to try Rivas Canyon which goes from Temescal Gateway to Will Rogers State Park. Trail starts out heading up the ridge on the East side of Temescal Canyon. The trail was cool and shady in the morning with lots of tall plants on both sides of the trail. First observation is that hardly anyone hikes this trail, unlike the other trails I normally take that have lots of people all the time (of course it probably helped that it was Monday).

After getting out of Temescal Canyon the trail runs on the South-facing slope above the large reservoir at the top of Chautauqua Blvd. Then it winds down the other side of the hill down to the bottom of Rivas Canyon with lots of switchbacks. The bottom of the canyon was very green and lush. Lots of poison oak everywhere too, so stay on the trail. There are several groves of trees, the first was sycamore trees, then a little farther down the trail a grove of oak trees, and finally a grove of eucalyptus trees. Everywhere was green, and it was pleasantly cool in the canyon. The trail goes behind some houses in the canyon before getting to the entrance of Will Rogers.

Will Rogers has stables and is very popular for horseback riding. I stayed on the main trails which are really big wide dirt roads that are designed to be easy for horses. Next time I do this I'll stay on the single track hiking trails instead. I hadn't been to Will Rogers since I was little, and I didn't want to get lost since I had an appointment to keep in the early afternoon. I followed the Inspiration Point Loop trail up to Inspiration Point which would have been more inspiring if there hadn't been so many flies. But the view was nice. It was a hazy day so it wasn't spectacular. From there back down the rest of the loop. Coming down from the point I passed the junction with the Backbone Trail and stayed right to head back down to Will Rogers. I was worried about time so I cut the loop short by taking the road through the stables which got me back to the bottom quickly.

On the way back to Temescal at the top of the ridge I was doing OK on time and decided to explore an unmarked spur trail that had stairs. I was only going to go for a few steps to see where it led, but decided to go a little farther and a little farther and before I knew it I had gone for 15 minutes and found myself at the top of a hill with a really nice view. From there the trail continued Northward along the ridge line on the East side of Temescal Canyon. I'll have to try that some other time because this time I had to get back. Back on the main trail just before starting the descent into Temescal Canyon there was another unmarked spur trail that I checked out briefly that looked like a shortcut up to the ridge line I had just been on.

I'm definitely going to do this again. This is a great trail that avoids the crowds on the main trails in the area.

When I get a little more time I'll post an official route and write up a description of this trail.

Wildflowers
Lots of yellow wildflowers (mustard, black-eyed-susans, others) everywhere.
4.36 mi • 1,149 ft aeg
Easter morning hike. It is a beautiful, clear day. Only a little hazy looking out towards Palos Verdes. The air temperature was pleasantly cool. Took the ridge trail up to where it meets the canyon trail, then took the steep unofficial trail up to the top of the ridge line a little below Skull Rock. Lots of people on the trail this morning. Just before the top of the ridge trail someone had spotted a little rattlesnake and a woman wasn't letting anyone go past. She freaked a little when a guy started walking toward where the snake had disappeared into the bushes, but he calmed her down saying "It's OK, I have a PhD in herpetology." First time I ever heard anyone use that line! Snake was long gone. Later I saw the woman a few more times warning everyone she passed on the trail to look out for the snake that she saw. Took the canyon trail back down. Saw two newts in the pool upstream of the bridge lazily swimming around, and two just below the bridge mating. Lots of yellow wildflowers along the ridge trail, not so much in the canyon.

Wildflowers
Lots of different yellow flowers and a few other colors too along the ridge trail.
4 mi • 0 ft aeg
Did this little multi-trail loop on a day off from work while in Bakersfield. The flowers were in full bloom and, for the portion of the hike on the fireline trail, I was pretty much swimming through chest-high flowers of all different colors for a good bit.

The payoff at the end with the view of the Pacific from the bluffs is well worth it. Nice easy hike with some beautiful scenery.
8.53 mi • 2,092 ft aeg
I wanted to go all the way to the hub junction, but got off to a late start and wanted to get back for the start of the Super Bowl. First thing I noticed at the start of the hike was that there was water flowing from the stream into the storm drain near Sunset Blvd. That's something that I haven't seen in many many years. The ground was damp and I was concerned that the trail might be a big muddy slip and slide like it was last fall when I hiked it. That time I had my trekking poles and even so had a hard time staying on my feet on some parts of the trail. But it wasn't bad this time. There was none of the usual dust and loose dirt on the trail, and that made it much nicer to walk on. There were a couple muddy spots along the way, but they were no problem.

It was an overcast day, and the trail went up into the clouds past Skull Rock which was cool (both visually and temperature wise). As usual the hike up Temescal Ridge trail had lots of people up to Skull Rock, and after that hardly anyone. The trail sign at the junction of the Temescal Fire Road and the Trailer Canyon Fire Roadshowed 2.1 miles to the Hub and 3.9 miles back to Sunset. I didn't have time to make it to the Hub so that was my turn around point.

On the way down I took the Temescal Canyon Trail so I could check out the waterfall. I could hear the waterfall from a distance as I approached it which was really cool. It was flowing very nicely as expected and there were a lot of people at the bridge commenting on how long it's been since they've seen that much water. I stopped and took a few photos before continuing the rest of the way. All in all a great hike.

Wildflowers
Lots of clusters of little white flowers on bushes all over the hills, predominantly on the South facing slopes.
7.54 mi • 1,451 ft aeg
My main intent was to get back to the Santa Ynez Waterfall since my last time up I turned back just shy of the actual waterfall. There's been significant rain in So Cal these last couple of weeks so I expected the waterfall to be flowing well. Sure enough, there was water in the normally dry stream bed not far from the trail head. On past hikes I hadn't really noticed that the trail crosses the stream bed multiple times because there was never any water flowing. This time there was water. It was only a few inches deep, but I had to find rocks to step across on to keep my shoes dry. Anticipating water I brought along one of my trekking poles to use as a hiking stick to help me balance on the slippery stones, and I'm glad that I did. Even though there was a lot more (than none) water flowing in the stream on the lower part of the trail, the upper part near the waterfall was about the same as in December. But there was water all over the place seeping out of slopes and the dirt trail was moist everywhere. Curious. Anyway, I made it to the actual waterfall. It's about a 16' foot fall that runs down a rock face into a little pond. It turns out that it was only maybe 100' past where I turned around last time.

After seeing the waterfall I took the canyon trail up to Trippet Ranch to get a little workout. Along the way a little mole was on the trail heading towards me. I tried to get a picture, but the little guy kept moving closer and I only got a blurry shot. He was only about 4" long and looked very soft and fuzzy with his little naked mole nose and front paws. I turned left at the nature trail to go to Trippet instead of staying on the main trail and having to hike on the fire road. Lots of people out today.
7.62 mi • 1,907 ft aeg
Temescal to Radio Tower
Started out going up Temescal Ridge trail on a beautiful, clear morning. Lots of people out hiking on Black Friday. Much better than shopping! Instead of heading back down I continued on to Skull Rock where there were a lot of people sitting out on the rocks. I kept going thinking of maybe making it all the way to the Hub, but my legs were getting really tired. I went as far as the radio tower just before the junction with the Trailer Canyon fire road and rested there for a few minutes. I went back via Temescal Canyon trail. There was very little water at the waterfall again, which isn't surprising this time of year. My legs felt pretty spent by the time I got down and I was glad that I turned around when I did. I'll take hiking over shopping any day.
8.51 mi • 1,781 ft aeg
Reseda Eagle Rock Loop
Normally I'm on the West Side, but I happened to be in the San Fernando Valley so I decided to hike the North end of the Temescal Ridge Fire Road. The northermost segment of the fire road from the trailhead at the end of Reseda Blvd to the Hub Junction was the only piece that I hadn't logged. Now I've hiked all of Temescal Ridge from the Palisades to the Valley.

It was about 4 miles from the trailhead to Eagle Rock via The Hub all via boring fire road. I was going to continue past Eagle Rock and loop back to the Hub, but I saw a sign for the Garapito Canyon Trail near Eagle Rock that indicated that it was just 2.5 miles to Temescal Ridge Fire Road. That was a lot shorter than the loop around Eagle Rock, so I went for it. This trail was a single track with a soft dirt surface that ismuch nicer to walk on than the fire roads. There was a sign at the beginning of the trail that said no bicycles. I saw more bicycle tire tracks than footprints, but I didn't encounter any other hikers or bikes. Garapito Canyon Trail traverses along a generally north facing slope and slowly winds down to the bottom of the canyon. There is a lot of shade from trees and plants growing over the trail which made it very pleasant. After two miles the trail gets to the bottom of the canyon and the dry Garapito Creek. It must be very pretty when there's water flowing. Then the trail rises on the other side of the canyon which is on a generally South-facing slope that gets a lot more sun than the first part of the trail. Eventually it meets the fire road. The trail continues on the other side of the fire road as the Bent Arrow Trail which leads to the the dirt Mulholland Drive. was a nice alternative to returning on the fire road. I am a sucker for a loop trail. This one got back to Mulholland pretty quickly coming out about a half mile East of Reseda Blvd.

When I get a chancel I'll enter descriptions and routes for these trails.
8.46 mi • 1,708 ft aeg
Eagle Loop from Sta Ynez TH
After a couple week hiatus from hiking due to work demands I made it to a trail in Cali. The first mile from the trailhead follows the bottom of the canyon and was shady and pleasant. The next mile climbs up out of the canyon and it was hot. Not Arizona hot, but hot nonetheless. A lot of the climb up to the fire road was in the hot sun with head reflecting from the ground and no wind. There were a few spots that had a clear view down the canyon and the sea breeze was cool and refreshing.

Just before reaching the fire road a little garter snake dashed across the trail right in front of me. He was much too fast for me to get a picture. Oh well. I followed the fire road to Eagle Junction and then took the Musch trail back down. This was my first time on the Musch trail and it was good to get off the big (and hot) wide fire road and walk on a single track trail. The trail goes past the Musch campground which was empty, and then ended up at Trippet Ranch where I picked up the fire road back to the Santa Ynez Canyon Trail.
3.16 mi • 753 ft aeg
My apologies for this being so late. I just realized that this hike did not have a triplog with it. As memory serves, it was a very hot day. And I also underestimated the power of elevation when it comes to judging how far of a hike my family and I should take. Let’s just say I was in a bit of trouble when we finished! With that said, the views were spectacular and totally worth it!
7.92 mi • 1,842 ft aeg
Afternoon hike to the overlook. It was cool and foggy at the trailhead, but once at the East Topanga Fire Road the trail was above the marine layer and hot and sunny. This time I took a couple of the side-trails that parallel the fire road to make it feel more like hiking on a trail and less like walking on a road. At the top of the first plateau someone had made two circles of twigs, leaves and even a dead lizard. I left it undisturbed in case it was some sort of offering to some demonic being. From the overlook the coast and ocean were all hidden under the marine layer. On the way back I stopped to rest and saw smoke from a brush fire to the North. As I continued down there was more and smoke. Getting back to a TV I saw local news covering brush fires in Calabassas.
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