Parker Mesa Overlook
One of my favorite hikes near Los Angeles is the "back" way to Parker Mesa Overlook, part of Topanga State Park. (The venerable guide Afoot and Afield in Los Angeles refers to it as "Topanga Overlook", but I'll go with the trail markings.) Today was perfect for a hike, with cool ocean breezes, a sunny clear sky, and green hillsides (from the winter rains). So, I strapped on my backback (dusty, and unfortunately not necessarily mountain dust) and headed on a little walk.
It is just a short drive to the trailhead, west along Sunset Blvd, to Paseo Miramar (almost to PCH). This is in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood, which is quite affluent. One of the enjoyable parts of the trip is the drive up Paseo Miramar, as road is very steep, and winds past some incredible houses. Parking is available on the street. In the past I was able to park fairly close to the trailhead (at the very end of the street), but today I had to park a little ways down the hill.
The trail itself is really fire-road... wide, well-kept, and bare. Normally, I dislike fire-roads, as they lack character (and challenge), but the surrounding views are sufficient to override those concerns. Sneakers are acceptible footwear, although there are a couple of inclines that are dusty enough that one should be careful. I took me about an hour and a half to get from my car to the Overlook, but I spent some time taking pictures and enjoying the view. The trail has some great views of the ocean, and of the west side of Los Angeles.
The Overlook is located at N 34°03.552' W 118°34.426', with an error of 36 ft by my GPS. (Google Maps is awesome, as you can see.) It is 1558 ft above sea level, according to my read. The Park just installed some benchs for sitting and looking at the ocean, but as they were occupied by chatting Angelenos, I was happy with a sun-warmed rock.
I have hiked this trail several times. Once, I tried to run up it, but wasn't able to sustain the pace very long. Another time, I took my parents and sister with me, but the day was very foggy and they didn't get to see much. My favorite time was a hike that ended up at night, with Elizabeth and I making our way back under the light of the moon.
|Near the beginning of the trail. The green of Los Angeles spring is not the verdant green of wetter areas. It hedged its bets against the long dry brown summer.|
|The Santa Monica coastline, looking south. The small line in the middle of the curve of the coastline is the Santa Monica pier. Elizabeth used to live just south of that. If you look closely, you might see fellow hikers on the trail.|
|A number of flowering trees and bushes could be seen.|
|The final approach to the Overlook.|
|A view of the ocean, while I ate my lunch.|
|The view north seemed slightly silvered by the sea mist.|
|Several boulders along the trail seemed to be aggregates of many smaller rocks. I guess that these boulders were formed in the ocean, and then thrust up in some cataclysm. I wonder if the incessant workings of erosion will return it to the sea, or future cataclysms will suddenly toss it further.|