Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Calabasas Peak Red Rock Canyon
Do you like rocks? Do you like mountains? Do you like mountains with rocks? Well then get yo'self to Red Rock Canyon Park, right near Topanga Canyon Village Town Hamlet and get some hiking on!
I was intrigued by this park 45 minutes west of LA especially with the promise of two wholly different trails to tromp around. Clocking in at just over 7 miles, you can do Calabasas Peak as well as the Red Rock Canyon "overlook" in just a couple of hours. Come with me, won't you, on my adventure?
The Topanga Canyon area is such a funky little place with shops and bars more fitting to a remote hippy artist desert town than the middle of LA. There are some great trails in this area if you want to brave the winding roads and one of them happens to be Red Rock Canyon.
Managed by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, this park is located at the end of a long winding dirt road through many homes with no trespassing and no parking signs. You just have to follow the "trail" a bit to the end. The SMMC charges $5 to park although if you feel like walking .5 mile to the park you can park in the few parking zones along the road. Personally, parks need our dough and the $5 was worth it not to have to walk that stupid road back and forth.
Ok so now you are there, what do to? Well first you start along a very flat parkland trail
and as you start making your way on the trail, the rocks start to peak up from everywhere and whomping you over the head with their impressiveness.
Now I like to get warmed up before starting to climb the higher stuff, stretch the legs out and knock the rust off of a week at work. However, before you do that, I highly suggest taking a slight detour to the left about .30 of a mile in to go explore some great caves.
As you scramble your way up to the top, the views are pretty awesome.
Of course, here is a perspective of the caves from ADKinLAVision
Then you keeping making your way on the trail (of course, what else would you do?). About another .2-.3 of a mile further you can either decide to hike on the way up to Calabasas Peak or hang a right to the Red Rock Canyon "overlook". I completely missed the trail to the overlook and went up to the Peak first but you can do either. They are 2 totally different trails but both are well worth your time.
The trail to Calabasas Peak is basically a fireroad and after the trail junction with the overlook trail, decides that it has enough of that boring flat trail and ascends rather steadily
giving you quite the work out. On your way up to the top, the rocks play a big part of the scenery and while I am sucker for vistas, I really enjoyed looking "down".
Then you get to the junction of Stunt Road. If you want to avoid the $5 fee, you can park down the Stunt Road and then take the fireroad North toward the peak. On this day, most people were going via Red Rocks but I did see a few coming from the South on Stunt. Also be prepared for lots o dogs. I love dogs. Dogs be great! People also love their dogs on this trail and certainly most are friendly but it got to be a bit much as this trail is clearly "four legs good, two legs bad".
Turning right/North the peak starts to come into view and the road clearly and depressing goes up. If doing this trail, I definitely recommend during the "winter" here in LA or on an overcast day because there is very little shade so while the incline is not the toughest I have done, by far, it will get you sweating pretty good, even in 70 degree weather.
Of course the trail also gave me a nice view of my nemesis, LadyFace which wasn't exactly a welcomed reminder but there are still great other views of the Santa Monica Mountains.
As you reach the flatter ridgeline, the last few hundred feet come into view. There is a seeming trail that leads right from the summit but I was fooled! I thought it didn't lead to the summit but it did. I hiked another stupid .3 of a mile or so until I found the back end of the summit trail. This, of course, is the harder way up to the summit and much, more vertical. This was fun.
And just to bring home how stupid I was, here is lesser approach from the easier way:
No matter how you get to the summit, you have to brave the brambly pine boughs of doom
and finally you reach the summit.
Yeaaa! Its a great feeling to reach a summit after a great ascent amongst the rocks. The views along the ridgeline and the summit are worth the effort.
What's that you say? You want more ADKinLA videos? Why sure, here ya go!
Then its back down the trail which of course goes much faster than the uphill. Once you get back down the trail you come again to the trail junction. Now what does this mythical trail junction look like you might ask?
Now, I am a BIG fan of this trail. It cuts North and up a wash with a nice little rugged single track.
Of course there are rocks, that is the reason for the season in this park! As you hike this little rugged patch you get up close and personal with rocks.
I am not a "bouldering" guy since I also don't climb (not yet anyway) but apparently this is a popular place to boulder and I can see why:
Of course, you must be wondering why I keep referring to the "overlook" in quotes? Well I was expecting a nice pad above the valley where you could chill out and look out. Instead, you get this:
I have to admit, it was a little disappointing but overall it was a great trek and a good cap to the day (also less people and more importantly less dogs on this trail).
Overall, I am a fan of this little park. It will give you a nice workout, a nice view and rocks? Boy do they have em.
If you want to check out a trail map, here ya go: http://www.lamountains.com/maps/redRock.pdf
Calabasas Peak Red Rock Canyon