Topanga Overlook

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Featured in the Nobody Hikes in L.A. Guidebook!

View from near the Topanga Overlook
View from near the Topanga Overlook
Sunlight through the oaks on the trail to Topanga Overlook

Text and photography copyright 2010 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved.  Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability.  All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities.  The author does not take any responsibility for injuries sustained during hikes or walks on the routes described here.   Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.

Topanga Overlook

  • Location: Santa Monica Mountains.   From Pacific Coast Highway, take Sunset Blvd. 0.3 miles to Paseo Miramar.  Go left on Paseo Miramar, which is a winding, narrow street, and follow it to the end where there is on-street parking before a vehicle gate.  If necessary, park a little farther down on Paseo Miramar; pay attention to the signed restrictions.
  • Agency:  Topanga State Park
  • Distance: 5.4 miles (out and back)
  • Elevation gain: 1,100 feet
  • Suggested time: 2.5 hours
  • Difficulty rating: PG-13 (Elevation gain)
  • Best season:  All year
  • USGS topo map: “Topanga”
  • Recommended gear: sunblock; sun hat
  • More information:  Trip descriptions here, here (with the addition of the Los Liones Trail) and here; area trail map here; Everytrail report here
  • Rating: 7

Featuring some of the best ocean, mountain and city views around–at least on days of good visibility–the Topanga Overlook (also known as the Parker Mesa Overlook) is an understandably popular hiking destination.  The route described here is challenging, climbing over 1,000 feet, but navigation and terrain are easy.  If you are looking to explore the Santa Monica Mountains, this hike is a great place to start.

From the end of Paseo Miramar, begin a steady ascent on the East Topanga Fire road, passing a junction with the Los Liones Trail at 0.2 miles (hikers who want more of challenge can start at the beginning of that trail, 1.3 miles and 600 feet lower.) The trail continues its climb, following a ridge with some good views of L.A. to the east and the Santa Monica Mountains to the west. If the air is clear, sharp-eyed hikers may be able to pick out Eagle Rock in Topanga State Park to the north.

At about 1.3 miles, you reach a crest where the trail makes a brief descent, passing some of the only shade trees on the hike. You reach a pleasantly secluded meadow before beginning another ascent to a junction (2.2 miles.)  The trail continues toward Trippet Ranch in Topanga State Park, 2.5 miles away.  To get to the overlook, however, turn left and follow an undulating ridge half a mile south.

At the overlook, your efforts are rewarded with a panoramic ocean view.  You can sit on either of two benches and enjoy the scenery, which includes the Palos Verdes Peninsula and Catalina Island in the distance.


  1. hey there, just want to let you know I’ve barely browsed your site but I like the idea. I love the outdoors and am determined to get my gf into it too. It’s just hard knowing where to look for places to explore when it doesn’t seem like there are too many people around me that are into hiking and stuff. Have you been to all these places? cheers

    1. Hi WCT!

      As the previously “hike resistant” girlfriend of this site’s admin, dlockeretz, I can say that I am glad he kept at it and eased me into hiking so that I could learn to love it too! Start by taking your girl out on “nature walks,” hikes with less than, say, 600 feet elevation gain and a couple miles. She’ll dig on the fresh air and spending time with her man on a nice romantic nature stroll. Once she finds out how peaceful and restorative these walks can be, slowly turn up the heat for more “athletic” elevation gains and mileage.

      Be gradual! be supportive! help her to see that hiking is FUN, not just ass burning nature torture. good luck!


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