Text and photography copyright 2011 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.
- Location: South end of the San Fernando Valley. From highway 101 in Tarzana, drive south on Reseda Blvd. for 2.3 miles. (On the way, Reseda becomes Mecca Ave. and then Reseda again). Park across from the Braemar Country Club, at the signed trail head on the left side of the road.
- Agency: Topanga State Park
- Distance: 4.2 miles
- Elevation gain: 1,000 feet
- Suggested time: 2 hours
- Difficulty rating: PG
- Best season: October-June
- USGS topo map: “Canoga Park”
- Recommended guidebook: Afoot & Afield Los Angeles County
- More information: here
- Rating: 7
The Caballero Canyon trail, which serves as an access point to Topanga State Park, starts on the fringes of the San Fernando Valley, but quickly escapes into peace and quiet. Recent rains have made the area particularly green, but have also caused some erosion and muddiness on the trail, so be careful.
From Reseda Blvd., head downhill from the trail head and into the canyon (stay right at the first junction). The trail begins a moderate ascent and hooks up with the dirt section of Mulholland Highway after 1.5 miles. Note that a temporary bypass has been improvised at a point in the trail where the main route is washed out (following recent rains). This shortcut rejoins the main trail soon; head left and continue uphill. Just before the junction, a wooden bench makes for a nice rest spot, where you get a great view of the Valley.
At Mulholland, take a left and head east. See that huge, steep fire break? That’s NOT your route, fortunately (although no one says you can’t check it out). Instead, look for an unsigned trail branching off to the right just before the fire break. This trail is rough in places but overall not too hard to follow. Take a right at the junction, and make a short climb to a hill marked by a cairn, where you get great views of Topanga Canyon, the Valley and the ocean.