Summit Valley

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Sunset from Summit Valley
Heading up the ridge in Summit Valley
Heading up the ridge in Summit Valley

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.

Summit Valley

  • Location: Off of Topanga Blvd in the Santa Monica Mountains.  From Santa Monica and Malibu, take Topanga Canyon Boulevard (highway 27) north for about 8 miles.  Just past Santa Maria Road, at a big curve in the road, look for a dirt parking lot on the left side and park there.  From the Valley, take highway 27 south.  The parking area is on the right, 2.6 miles south of Mulholland.  NOTE: As of this update (7/16/2014), there is no Iron Ranger to collect fees at the trail head, although signs indicating the $5 day use fee are still there.  Contact the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy for more information.
  • Agency:  Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area
  • Distance: 2.1 miles
  • Elevation gain: 500 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: PG
  • Suggested time: 1 hour
  • Best season: All year, but hot in the summer
  • USGS topo map:  Canoga Park
  • Recommended gear: sun hat; hiking poles
  • More information: here; video about the park here; Everytrail report here
  • Rating: 6

Located on the western side of Topanga Canyon, Edelman Park/Summit Valley features a few miles of hiking trails.  Though most of the trails are short, the climb from the valley to the Summit to Summit Motorway is vigorous.  Highlights include panoramic mountain and canyon views.

There are several possible routes one can take here.  The 2.1 mile loop described here offers a good, quick workout and some wide-ranging vistas.  From the trail head, descend into the canyon, passing a seasonal stream and reaching a Y-junction in a field in a quarter mile.  This is the start of the loop and both directions are steep, although the left fork is a little less so.  Follow it through the field and begin your ascent along a ridge line, at one point gaining about 250 feet in 0.2 miles.

The climb levels out and soon approaches the Summit to Summit Motorway (0.8 miles).  You can turn around and retrace your steps for a shorter hike or head southwest on the fire road to extend your trip.  For this route, however, turn right and head northeast on the Summit to Summit, enjoying some nice aerial views of the canyon.

At a T-junction, continue following the motorway by heading right, toward an antenna (1.2 miles.)  On the back side of the antenna, look for a somewhat obscure single-track trail descending steeply.  Follow it along a ridge back down into the canyon.  A small grove of oaks provides some welcome shade.  After dropping more than 400 feet in 0.7 miles, you close the loop.  Complete the hike by heading out of the canyon, retracing your steps back toward the trail head.


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