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Pacific Palisades, California, United States

Los Liones Trail to Parker Mesa

A moderately difficult hike in Topanga Canyon State Park. Lush greens and beautiful views make this trail a hit!

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Length: 7.3 miles / 11.7 km
Overview: A 7+ mile hike from the Pacific Palisades to a popular overlook in Topanga State Park. The first part of this hike – the Los Liones Trail – is one of the most lush riparian canyons I’ve ever seen in the Santa Monica Mountains. It’s gently graded, moderately shady, and definitely worth a look even if you have to fight crowds.

Afterward, the trail meets up with the system of fire roads in Topanga State Park and makes a relentless ascent to Parker Mesa (1525ft). On a clear day, you’ll get amazing views of the Santa Monica Bay, and often inland as far as the San Bernardino Mountains.

Tips: While the Los Liones Trail is fairly shaded, most of the fire roads are not. Leave early in the hot months to avoid unbearable summer temperatures, or try to hike in the cooler months instead.

For the best views, try doing this trail 1-2 days after it rains. The smog and haze get knocked out of the air, and views stretch for almost impossible distances in every direction!

Points of Interest


Los Liones Trailhead

The trail begins behind a chain-link fence at a sharp bend in Los Liones Drive.

Enter the gate and continue north on the trail, ignoring the turn-off that parallels Los Liones Drive to the south.

The Los Liones Trail winds through shaded and ivy-covered canyons for 1.3 miles in some of the most picturesque and verdant scenery in the Santa Monica Mountains.

E Topanga Fire Road Jct and Overlook

Here, the Los Liones Trail ends, leaving the forested section of the canyon and meeting with the wider, less-shaded East Topanga Fire Road.

There is a park bench here with a lovely overlook of Santa Monica Bay - especially nice on clear days in the cooler months or after a rain.

To continue, make a sharp left at the 3-way junction onto the fire road.

Parker Mesa Trail

Continue 3.2 miles on the East Topanga Fire Road.

This stretch of trail is not nearly as varied as the Los Liones Trail, but is much more wide and gently graded.

If you're looking for an extra bit of challenge, there are several use-trails that leave the main road and ascend over bumps and low hills to cut a short amount of distance from your total.

When you reach the 3-way junction, keep left and take the marked path toward Parker Mesa.

Parker Mesa

Reach Parker Mesa at the end of the trail.

This is a popular and beautiful area with breathtaking views of the Santa Monica Bay. On clear days - especially after a rain - you can see past downtown L.A. to the snow-covered San Gabriels and beyond.

There are a few benches on the Mesa, but you may have to wait a few minutes to sit on one. Soak in the views, then return the way you came.
Pictures in this guide taken by: modernhiker
We arrived at 8:15am. Parking was easy. The first 1.5mi is on a narrow trail and offers some protection from the sun. Then you walk on a fire road for around 2 miles. The view is 8/10 epic. It offers a more impressive scenery than canyon hiking in the Malibu area. I will future guests here.

There were tons of people and bikers. It never got overwhelming crowded but there was a pretty constant stream of people. Round trip with a small sack break at the top was 2hr45 min. In terms of difficulty, it give it a 3.5/10. You walk uphill for 75% of the time on the way to the lookout but it's never that steep, so slow and steady would work.


Visited on Nov 03, 2013

by mr.joshuagordon on Nov 03, 2013
Nice hike - a solid workout, and, as advertised, great views at the top. I think I'll try mid-week, as there were tons of people . . .

by davidtart on Dec 11, 2010
I went the day after a winter rain - that is by far the best time to get clear skies here in Southern California.

by modernhiker on Nov 24, 2010
these pictures are crystal clear! when we went it was all covered in a thick marine layer. when did you go?

by aravinda24 on Aug 14, 2010

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