Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Hiking Topanga

As I have gotten to know more and more people in the SoCal hiking community, everyone had asked if I had visited Topanga and hiked around there. Like a Boy meeting the World, I had not had a chance to hike this but as I start to get further and further into the Malibu "high country" I definitely wanted to check this out and I am glad I did.

When you get there, you can park on the side roads or pay the $10 entrance fee. Given the state of the California parks, I say pay the fee. Another way around the fee is to become a member of the Cali State Parks Foundation who has a nice voucher system as part of the membership. This hike is definitely worth whatever you ultimately spend. 

I was also breaking in my first pair of trailrunners. They were much more lightweight than my hiking boots but took a bit of getting used to going down some of the scrabbly dirt in sections. But enough about me, what about the hiking?

First I started off on the Eagle Rock Trail. Big honking fireroads (canoe trails) that don't have too many great elevation gains but

will lead to some great views of the Pacific.

Now you don't have to stick to the canoe trails. Like many of the trails in Malibu, there are small (kayak) trails that run parallel to the main trails but get the heart pumping as you go up more strenuous inclines. I highly suggest you do because the views are so much better on these kayak trails. There are also some interesting trail markers on the summits.

As the trails make their way up toward Eagle Rock, the scenery gets prettier and prettier.

And then, BAM! Eagle Rock!

Like a great rocky phoenix, it rises out of the landscape and is very impressive. You make your way through to the rock by treking up a rough little patch.

The trail is well signed but they certainly want you to know when you have made it to Eagle Rock.

Eagle Rock is clearly popular as there are trash cans and a bench before you make your way to the rock itself. When I got up there, there were only a few people but soon a horde of 8 arrived and I vamoosed. I am not a rock climber as readers of this blog will attest but rock scrambling? Sign me up!

And at the top, nice views!

After scrambling up the rock, I suggest going East on the trails around the Eagle Loop trail. To get to Eagle Rock is 2 miles. The Loop trail will add another 2.5 or so to the journey and getting back to the trailhead is another 2 so if you want a 6-7 mile hike, take the Loop. The map is a little confusing but Eagle Rock is basically the start of the Eagle Springs Loop trail. At the junction, you can either head down to the parking lot on the Musch Trail.

If you continue along the Eagle Springs Loop trail, there are some good views and eventually you reach the second hub where you can continue down the backbone trail to the Will Rogers trail or loop back to Eagle Rock (the hub is basically this bush with several little signs for the various trails).

I highly suggest going down the Musch Trail. It is a trail with lots o vegetation and almost a Fall sense in the air. I had one interesting experience on this trail as there was something large rumbling around in the bushes on the right of this trail. I thought "mountain lion" but it was probably more like "mountain mouse" (or more likely a deer). Still there is a bit of wildlife on the trail especially the Musch Trail.

Overall, I give big thumbs up to this trail and the scenery. I really had a "I Love Living In LA" tm type of experience up on the trail. To hike on a pleasant day on a trail that you can take it easy on or push yourself and see amazing views of the Pacific, well that is a good day in my book. I am planning to hike even more around Malibu to get that great dichotomy of mountains and surf. Only in LA baby!

Here is a great summary from Modern Hiker: http://www.modernhiker.com/2008/01/13/hiking-eagle-rock-and-temescal-peak/

This map is slightly confusing but useful. Just remember, Eagle Rock is the start of the loop. http://www.parks.ca.gov/default.asp?page_id=25336


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