Garapito Loop from Marvin Braude Gateway Park (Topanga State Park)
- Location: Marvin Braude Gateway Park, at the south end of Reseda Blvd. in the San Fernando Valley. From Highway 101, take the Reseda Blvd. exit and head south (left if you’re coming from L.A., right if you’re coming from Ventura) for 3.4 miles. Park in the lot at the end of the street, at Marvin Braude Gateway Park. There is a$5 fee per vehicle.
- Agency: Topanga State Park/Marvin Braude Gateway Park
- Distance: 7.3 miles
- Elevation gain: 1,200 feet
- Suggested time: 3.5 hours
- Difficulty rating: PG-13 (Distance, elevation gain)
- Best season: October-May
- USGS topo maps: “Topanga”; “Canoga Park”
- Recommended gear: hiking poles; sun hat
- More information: Trail map here; Everytrail report here
- Rating: 8
This challenging and scenic figure-8 shaped hike visits Topanga State Park’s lightly traveled northern end. Using a mix of fire roads and single-track trails, it takes in a wide variety of views and offers a great workout. Leaving from Marvin Braude Gateway Park at the south end of Reseda Blvd., there are several possible ways to complete this route. Done clockwise, as described here, it allows hikers to get most of the fire road hiking out of the way early, saving the more interesting Garapito Trail for last.
From the parking area, head uphill on the fire road, meeting Dirt Mulholland Drive at 0.2 miles. Turn left and begin a pleasant, gradual descent, with some nice views o the Valley on the left. At 0.8 miles from the start, you reach the Bent Arrow Trail on the right.
This short but enjoyable single-track clings to the side of the ridge, with a sharp drop on the left. You get a good view of Rustic Canyon, and if you look carefully, you may notice the Sullivan Fire Road on the hills across the way.
At 1.2 miles from the start, you reach a four-way
intersection, which you will also hit on the way back. Turn left and head uphill on the fire road, signed both as the Temescal Ridge Fire Road and Fire Road 30. A gradual (500 feet in 1.5 miles) brings you to Hub Junction, a four-way intersection. A shade structure with benches makes a nice place to sit and relax. You get a nice view of a sandstone outcrop known as Cathedral Rock.
Continuing, take the first road on the right (the only one heading uphill), and climb to a vista point where you get some nice views of the San Fernando Valley and the western Santa Monicas. After 0.8 miles (3.6 from the start), you can see Eagle Rock, the park’s famous landmark, off to the left. Look for the narrow Garapito Trail heading off to the right at this point.
The Garapito Trail heads along the northwest side of the hill, ducking in and out of pockets of chaparral and oaks. Soon, you start a big descent into the bottom of the canyon, finally reaching the bottom in 1.8 miles (5.4 from the start.) Take a sharp hairpin turn, cross the stream bed and begin ascending on some switchbacks. Another short descent brings you to another stream crossing. The trail climbs out of the stream bed, clinging to the side of the canyon, passing by some interesting geology and some tall sycamores, which sometimes show colors well into winter.
At 6.3 miles, you rejoin the Temescal Ridge Fire Road. Turn left and begin a gradual ascent over the next 0.6 miles, taking some nice views to the west, including Castro Peak near Malibu Creek State Park. At Dirt Mulholland, turn right and head back toward the trailhead. Soon, notice a small trail (Reseda Spur) branching off to the left. Follow this single-track for 0.3 miles back to the parking area.
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.