Parker Mesa Overlook is located on the west side of Topanga State Park, which holds the distinction of being:
The world’s largest wildland within the boundaries of a major city.
This distinguishes it from Griffith Park:
The largest municipal park and urban wilderness area in the United States.
Both parks offer great hikes, and the trek to Parker Mesa Overlook is no exception. The overlook offers panoramic views of Santa Monica Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The coastline spans from Palos Verdes in the south to Malibu in the north, and in between, it is nothing but blue.
Parker Mesa Overlook is reachable via a spur trail off East Topanga Fire Road, which runs north to south from Trippet Ranch at the heart of Topanga State Park down to a paved street in the Pacific Palisades north of Sunset Boulevard. One way to reach the mesa is to hike down the fire road from Trippet Ranch to Parker Mesa Overlook for a 6.7-mile round trip hike with 375 feet of elevation gain, but you may also start from the southern end of East Topanga Fire Road at the top of Paseo Miramar. This is a 5.7-mile round trip hike to Parker Mesa Overlook with 900 feet of elevation gain. There is also a longer option from a lower trailhead just to the west at the top of Los Liones Drive. The 1.3-mile long Los Liones Trail climbs a lush slope up to a junction near the bottom of East Topanga Fire Road facilitating a serious 7.8-mile round trip hike with 1,250 feet of elevation gain. These arduous treks are rewarded by sweeping ocean and canyon views.
Beginning from the trailhead at the end of Los Liones Drive: Find the trail to the right of the cul-de-sac and begin the climb. The single track weaves up an incredibly lush canyon. Slivers of the Pacific offer a taste of the broad ocean views to come. After 1.3 miles, the ivy and chaparral lined trail reaches East Topanga Fire Road and opens up on a great view of the coast. Catch your breath and turn left (almost a full U-turn) up the fire road, joining hikers and mountain bikers from the Paseo Miramar trailhead.
Beginning from the trailhead at the end of Paseo Miramar: Where the road ends, the hike begins. Begin up the vehicle-wide East Topanga Fire Road, hiking a quarter mile to the Los Liones Trail junction. From here it is another 2.6 miles to Parker Mesa Overlook.
Looking down East Topanga Fire Road
Over the next 1.15 miles, East Topanga Fire Road climbs 700 feet. The vegetation along the road is primarily grasses and sagebrush that offer broad views and lots of sun exposure. Trees provide occasional pockets of shade. There are ocean views to the west and views of Temescal Ridge and the houses off Palisades Drive to the east.
East Topanga Fire Road dips across a saddle, dropping 100 feet, before climbing back up to a junction with the spur trail to Parker Mesa Overlook, 2.05 miles from the Los Liones Trail junction. Ahead, the fire road continues toward Trippet Ranch. Turn left and hike the final 0.55 miles over rolling terrain to the overlook at the end of the mesa.
The view from Parker Mesa Overlook
From an elevation of 1,525 feet, Parker Mesa Overlook provides quite a perch over the Santa Monica Mountains and the Pacific Ocean below. A pair of benches have been kindly provided, so have a seat and enjoy the panoramic view. The mesa has the potential to deliver a mesmerizing sunset. Though you should pack a flashlight for the hike back if you plan to stay that late.
Parker Mesa Overlook at sunset
After exploring the overlook, hike back to the turnoff. make a right, and return the way you came. To add extra mileage to your hike, continue north along East Topanga Fire Road toward Trippet Ranch. This trail is mostly downhill with more good views of the ocean and the Pacific Palisades neighborhoods nestled into the mountains.
The longer hike beginning on Los Liones Trail provides a great workout and is a good trial-by-trail to condition yourself for a longer summit hike elsewhere. There is no fee to park on Los Liones Drive or Paseo Miramar. However, if you enter from Trippet Ranch, there is a $10 entrance fee for Topanga State Park (or you may park for free along the side of the road that approaches the park and walk in). Dogs are not allowed on trails in Topanga State Park, only on certain service roads. You may see a few rebels on the trail, but the owners may be ticketed.
To get to the Los Liones trailhead: Los Liones Drive is the second left off Sunset Blvd from PCH, just 1/3 of a mile from the beach. Park on the right side of Los Liones Drive, and enter the trail at the end of the cul-de-sac.
Trailhead address: 580 Los Liones Drive, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
Trailhead coordinates: 34.047263, -118.560098
To get to the Paseo Miramar trailhead: One street past Los Liones Drive (and just before Palisades Drive) is Paseo Miramar. Turn north up the street, which winds up the ridge for 1.2 miles to the trailhead at road’s end. Street parking is available on the west side of Paseo Miramar.
Trailhead address: 899 Paseo Miramar, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
Trailhead coordinates: 34.050803, -118.557169
Use the map below to create your own directions:
|Parker Mesa Overlook from Trippet Ranch|
This 6.7-mile roundtrip hike heads up to the overlook from the opposite direction, starting at Trippet Ranch, Topanga State Park’s main trailhead.
|Los Liones Trail|
This hike visits a lust canyon with ocean views, a potential start of the hike to Parker Mesa Overlook.
This 7.4-mile hike ascends from Santa Ynez Canyon to a sandstone summit in Topanga State Park with panoramic views of the Santa Monica Mountains.
|Santa Ynez Falls|
This 2.5-mile follows a shaded creek to a gorge containing a short waterfall.
This 1.5-mile hike descends Temescal Ridge to a head-shaped formation with great views over Santa Monica Bay.
| Temescal Peak|
This 5.8 to 7.6-mile hike ascends Temescal Ridge to a summit with sweeping views over Topanga State Park and the Santa Monica Mountains.
This 2.6-mile loop offers a variety of scenery and decent exercise, despite its relative brevity.
This section of the Backbone Trail crosses fields of grains and forests of bays, climbing 1,500 feet over 3.8 miles to a small ocean view. Extend the hike to Topanga Lookout for an incredible perspective over the Santa Monica Mountains.
|More trails in the Santa Monica Mountains|
Explore other destinations in the range.
|La Jolla Canyon Loop|
This 11.75-mile hike explores Point Mugu State Park on the west end of the Santa Monica Mountains, offering extraordinary ocean views.
This 3.6-mile hike travels an easy-to-follow fire road, climbing 1000 feet to panoramic views of the Santa Monica Mountains and San Fernando Valley.
|Zuma Ridge Trail|
This wide dirt service road which weaves northwest up the back of the ridge west of Zuma Canyon offering access to several trails in the area.
This 6.25-mile loop summits the tallest peak in the Santa Monica Mountains.