Eagle Rock via Cheney Ranch Trail (Topanga State Park)


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  • Location: Topanga State Park. From Topanga Canyon Road, 6.5 miles north of P.C.H. and 5.7 miles south of the 101 Freeway, head east on Cheney Road (turn left if you are coming from the north; right if from the south). Follow Cheney Road 0.7 mile to Callon Drive. Turn left and follow Callon 0.3 mile. Make a hairpin right turn onto Penny Road and follow it 0.3 mile. By this point the road is dirt and rutted out in spots; a high clearance vehicle is best but with caution, most cars should be able to make it. Park where available just before a rope blocks further progress on Penny Road. The approximate starting coordinates are N 34.111862, W 118.579355.
  • Agency: Topanga State Park
  • Distance: 1.6 miles
  • Elevation gain: 450 feet
  • Suggested time: 1 hour
  • Difficulty Rating: PG
  • Best season: Year round
  • Dogs: Not allowed
  • Cell phone reception: Good; weak to fair in a few spots
  • Water: None
  • Restrooms: None
  • Camping/backpacking: None (For information about camping in Topanga State Park, click here.)
  • Recommended gear: Hiking poles
  • More information: Trail description and elevation profile here
  • Rating: 6

Updated December 2018

This short but adventurous hike explores a famous landmark via a not-so-famous route. Eagle Rock, a sandstone outcrop known for its interesting shape and excellent views, is a popular destination in Topanga State Park. It is often visited by way of the park’s main entrance, as a loop hike with the Musch Meadows Trail, but it can also be reached via the less-traveled Cheney Ranch Trail, a former fire road in the northwestern corner of the park.

From Penny Road, head left and uphill on an unsigned dirt road. You soon reach the park entrance and continue uphill on the rocky trail. In a quarter mile, you reach a large sandstone outcrop with a few small caves. An easy climb brings you to the top where you can enjoy impressive views of the San Fernando Valley and the central Santa Monica Mountains. There’s a shallow cave is large enough to sit inside. A use trail (Cheney Ridge Trail on some maps) heads west, eventually hooking up with the closed-to-vehicles upper end of Penny Road.

The Cheney Ranch Trail continues due east, following a ridge before making a climb to join the Eagle Rock Fire Road (0.7 mile.) From here, turn right and walk 0.1 mile to Eagle Rock, where you will enjoy a 360-degree view that may extend to the Palos Verdes Peninsula, Saddle Peak, the Santa Susana Mountains and the western San Gabriels. This is a good turnaround point for a short hike, but if you want to extend the trip there are numerous options. You can make a balloon-shaped loop by continuing on the Eagle Rock Fire Road to the Eagle Springs Fire Road, following it east to Hub Junction and heading back on the upper leg of the Eagle Rock Fire Road, then retracing your steps down the Cheney Ranch Trail for a 4.2 mile hike with about 900 feet of elevation gain.

Cheney Trail, Topanga State Park
Entrance gate, Cheney Ranch Trail
Cheney Ranch Trail, Topanga State Park
View from the Cheney Ranch Trail, just beyond the gate
Cheney Ranch Trail, Topanga State Park
Sandstone cave, Cheney Ranch Trail
Cheney Ranch Trail, Topanga State Park
Northeast view from the top of the cave
Eagle Rock, Topanga State Park
Looking south from Eagle Rock
Eagle Rock, Topanga State Park
Looking north from Eagle Rock

Cheney Ranch Trail, Topanga State Park

Dusk on the Cheney Ranch Trail

Cheney Ranch Trail, Topanga State Park
Sunset on the Cheney Ranch Trail

Text and photography copyright 2018 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. By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result from hiking on this trail. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.

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