We are fortunate to enjoy great weather year around in Los Angeles, and our close proximity to the local mountains, desert, and coast makes hiking one of the favorite activities for many Angelenos. I find hiking a regenerative escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, and an opportunity to immerse myself in the native landscape. Luckily for us, even when we can’t get out far from the city, there’s nature to be found nearby.
One of my favorite hiking trails in Los Angeles to satiate this desire to commune with nature is the Parker Mesa Overlook in Topanga Canyon State Park. It’s a 7 miles round trip with about a 1,200’ of elevation gain, and less than a half hour drive from Downtown Los Angeles on weekend mornings. At the top of the overlook, hikers are rewarded with amazing panoramic views out and across the Pacific Ocean. On a clear day, you can even see Catalina Island! It’s also a great Saturday morning workout to get your heart pumping, as the trail isn’t usually too crowded.
The first part of the trail is the Los Liones Trail, a 1.3 mile uphill route through a lush riparian canyon with shade. The trail eventually meets up with a fire road in Topanga State Park, which is the start of the hike to the Parker Mesa Overlook trail. You can also start the hike at this point and bypass the Los Liones Trail altogether. There is only a little shade along the trail, so it’s best to bring a hat and apply sunscreen. There also quite of bit of wildlife along the trail to observe, especially at dusk when animals become more active: birds chirping, rabbits hopping across the trail, butterflies fluttering about, lizards basking, and even deer! It’s also a great trail to observe the seasonal change of California native plants.
How to get there: The trail starts off at Los Liones Canyon Trailhead, which can be reached from PCH heading northbound from Santa Monica. Turn east onto Sunset Blvd, then left onto Los Liones Drive. There is ample street parking and a free small parking lot.
For more information about this favorite trail just 30 minutes away from Downtown Los Angeles (without traffic, of course), check out Modern Hiker’s detailed guide and photos.