Weekend Hikers: Don’t Overlook Parker Mesa Overlook

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Getting to this spectacular overview of the Southern California coastline requires some strenuous hiking on your part. You will be richly rewarded, first by the very lush upward sloping Los Liones Trail, bordered by canyons carpeted in bright green ivy. Sneak peeks of the L.A. basin and the ocean along the way lead to a plateau with sweeping views of Century City, Downtown L.A. and the San Gabriel Mountains to the east, the ocean to the west. Rabbits and occasionally deer are critters spotted while on this trail.

The plateau is a junction for Paseo Miramar Road going down to your right, and the East Topanga Fire Road Fire Road ascending to your left. Expect to encounter other hikers and mountain bikers coming up from Paseo Miramar. Prepare for a relentlessly uphill 1,250 foot elevation gain via the fire road, taking you to the consummate view at the Overlook. About 8 miles from the trailhead to the Overlook round trip, plan on 4.5 – 6 hours time.

Another great, less time-consuming option is a full moon hike to the plateau (2 hours max). For directions, go here  

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Coolest Summer Trail in L.A.

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Dense, woodsy environs within the city limits of La-La Land? Believe it folks, this trail will pleasantly surprise you with lush vegetation dwarfed by oak and sycamore trees, a rushing creek (typically peaks from January – April), woodpeckers pecking, other birds and tiny lizards rustling in the bush, crows and the occasional raptor hovering above. Deer can often be spotted if you start early.

While most hiking trails in the local mountains are in open space on parched inclines covered with chaparral, Santa Ynez stands out as a shady haven on a hot day, or a cool untrampled refuge from the din of civilization.

The trail traverses the creek a number of times before you arrive at a juncture with a narrow rectangular wooden pole, offering the option of turning right to the waterfall, or left to continue by the creek and then ascend up a rocky trail with dramatic sandstone formations and canyon/ocean views to Trippet Ranch Fire Road. Shortly after veering left from the pole, you will encounter a cave perched atop a series of boulders to your left. A brief series of two doable hoists gets you inside for rest, meditation, or spying on passersby below.

Lately the waterfall trail has been overgrown from lack of maintenance, so if you want to rough it a bit, be my guest. Keep in mind that the flow is diminished to a trickle most of the year; best to do between January and April.

The trail is essentially flat for the first 35 minutes or so, until a set of stairs takes you into sandstone boulder terrain where the workout really begins. Round trip time is about two hours.

Click here, then scroll down for directions  

Escondido Falls, the Hidden Gem of the Santa Monica Mountains + Free Download

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Escondido Falls

With all the global gallivanting I’ve done, it’s easy to overlook the treasures buried in my own backyard of Los Angeles. This is an easy hike to the highest waterfall in the Santa Monica mountain range, a mere 30 minute drive from my palatial palace ..errr… humble one bedroom apartment.

The hike starts on the pavement along a road that branches off Pacific Coast Highway called Winding Way. After a mile, an obvious trail takes you down into the dense canopy of Escondido Canyon, crossing a creek several times. Lurching oak trees, riparian woodland and coastal sage dominate the scenery. As you approach the base of the lower falls, you can see the water dropping over the lip of the 150 foot upper falls in the distance. The lower falls are about 50 feet high and gush (or trickle, depending on time of year and your perception) over a moss-carpeted wall into a beautiful shallow pool.

This hike takes about 3 hours, with a 400 foot elevation gain.

Directions: from the Santa Monica (10) Freeway westbound, head towards the ocean where the freeway transforms into Pacific Coast Highway. Drive through the town of Malibu past Malibu Canyon Road and Pepperdine University. The parking lot is on Winding Way on the east side of Pacific Coast Highway. Park here and proceed uphill on the trail along the road to the dirt trail beginning at the end of the pavement.

©2013 Excerpt from “L.A. Made Easy: From Iconic to Eclectic” by Terry Braverman, All Rights Reserved

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