Difficulty PG Distance 2.1 to 5 miles Rating: 7-8 Santa Monica Mountains (East) Season: Fall/Early Winter Season: Late Winter/Spring

Red Rock Canyon Park (Topanga)


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On the Red Rock Canyon Trail
Cave in Red Rock Canyon Park

Red Rock Canyon Park (Topanga)

    • Location: Topanga.  From P.C.H., drive north on Topanga Canyon Blvd. (route 27) for 4.3 miles.  Turn left on Old Topanga Canyon Road, drive 1.8 miles and turn left on Red Rock Road.  Drive 0.9 miles and park in the dirt lot for $5.  From Highway 101, take the Valley Circle/Mulholland Drive exit.  Head south on Valley Circle, which soon becomes Mulholland Drive.  Go a total of 0.8 miles and turn right on Valmar.  Go 1.2 miles (Valmar becomes Old Topanga Canyon Road on the way) and turn right on Mulholland Highway.  Make a quick left onto Old Topanga Canyon Road, drive 3.8 miles and makea  right on Red Rock Road.
    • Agency: Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy
    • Distance: 2.4 miles
    • Elevation gain: 500 feet
    • Suggested time: 1.5 hours
    • Difficulty rating: PG
    • Best season: Year-round
    • USGS topo map: “Malibu Beach”
    • Recommended gear: sun hat
    • More information: here; Everytrail report here
    • Rating: 7

Secluded Red Rock Canyon Park (not to be confused with the state park farther north in the Mojave desert or the rocks in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park in Orange County) has some of the best geological scenery in the Santa Monica Mountains, if not all of So-Cal. Dramatic views of Calabasas Peak and the Topanga Ridge don’t hurt either.

From the dirt lot, head into the park on a wide fire road. A few stairs on the left side of the path lead to a sandstone cave, a nice detour worth checking out. The main road continues, eventually working its way up to the Calabasas Motowrway, but the route here will head right on a narrow trail shortly after the caves. You dip into a canyon and then begin climbing.

As you ascend the Red Rock Trail, you’ll be rewarded with great views of the surrounding area, and you’ll pass by some surrealistically shaped sandstone and volcanic outcrops, in a wide variety of colors from red to pink to orange to brown. The route is a little steep in spots, but before long you arrive at a sort of mini-summit which serves as an overlook, giving a nearly 360 degree view of the area. This is the turnaround point for this hike, but you can continue on the other side of the overlook.

Red Rock Canyon can also be reached from Stunt Road (the same trail head for Calabasas Peak.) For a description of that route, click here.

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. 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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