Difficulty PG Distance 2.1 to 5 miles Hikes with free parking Rating: 4-6 Santa Monica Mountains (East) Season: All year

Musch Meadows Loop (Topanga State Park)

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On the Musch Meadows Trail
Purple Sage on the Musch Meadows Trail

Musch Meadows Loop

  • Location: Topanga, on the corner of Hillside Drive and Rosario Drive.  From Pacific Coast Highway, head north on Topanga Canyon Blvd. for 5.8 miles, and take a right on Hillside (its’s a small street and easy to miss, so keep an eye out.  The turn is just before the fish market).  Almost immediately, take a sharp right to stay on Hillside.  Go 0.2 miles and park in the small dirt lot on the corner of Hillside and Rosario, by the gated fire road.  If there is no parking available there, you can park farther up on Hillside Drive.  From the Valley, take Highway 101 to Topanga Canyon Blvd. and head south for 6.8 miles to Hillside Drive.  Turn left and follow the directions above.  (Note: if you are coming from the Valley, don’t take the street on the right called Hillside, which comes up right before the Hillside on the left that you’re looking for, right past the fish market.)
  • Agency: Topanga State Park
  • Distance: 2.7 miles
  • Elevation gain: 600 feet
  • Suggested time: 1.5 hours
  • Difficulty Rating: PG
  • Best season: Year round
  • USGS topo map: “Topanga”
  • More information: Trail maps here, here
  • Rating: 6

This short but scenic (and surprisingly challenging) loop visits Topanga State Park’s lightly traveled western corner.  The trails here connect with others in the park, making it easy to extend the hike.

From the parking area, follow Hillside south for half a mile, passing by a few homes, enjoying nice views of Topanga Canyon on the right.  You enter the park and make a short climb to a T-junction, where you’ll head left on the Musch Trail.  You are now on a segment shared with the popular Eagle Rock loop.  The trail winds pleasantly along the side of the hill, providing good views of the canyon.

After a mile, you’ll pass a turnoff for Prier Road, which leads back down to Hillside.  Stay right, cross a service road and pass by a campground.  Shortly after the campground, you’ll enter a meadow.  Turn left on an obscure, unsigned trail that heads through the meadow, descends through some oaks and reaches another junction.  This is the Musch Meadows Trail.  You can cut your trip short by turning left, but for a nice, scenic extension, head right.

The trail enters a canyon (be careful of poison oak here), comes out and follows a rambling course over the next half mile, in and out of another canyon, up and around some hillsides.  It’s overgrown in some places, and gets right up to the edge of the ridge, so be careful.

In half a mile (1.8 from the start), the trail reaches a junction on a ridge, where you get nice views of Topanga Canyon and the Saddle Peak ridge to the west.  The trails leading straight and to the right go to private property; the trail to the left follows the ridge for a little while.  This is a good place to turn around.

Retrace your steps, continuing past the junction (stay right).  The trail continues for a short distance, making a hairpin turn to the left and climbing to meet up with the paved service road.  Turn right and head steeply downhill for a quarter mile back to Hillside Drive.

Text and photography copyright 2012 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.


One comment

  1. I have friends in Hollywood that swear by Topanga Canyon, and the hiking in the park. It always sounds like such a wonderful escape from the bustle of the city, right in it’s back yard. I’m writing on behalf of KEEN Footwear, because we’re inspired by people like you who take advantages of the outdoors as much as possible. We’d love to have your input and expertise on our recess page: recess.keenfootwear.com/get-high/. Check out the page where you can add your favorite trails and photos.

    KEEN Recess Team

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