As the name implies, Red Rock Canyon is filled with impressive colorful sandstone. The red rocks stand out from their lush green surroundings to create a dramatic landscape. The canyon lies adjacent to Calabasas Peak, which can be visited in conjunction with the park to form an excellent excursion.
The park’s “main” entrance is located at the end of Red Rock Road. Main is in quotes because the park entrance is so hidden that one must drive down a narrow dirt road to reach it. First time visitors will be questioning their directions, but this only adds to the enchanting character of the park.
The other way to enter the park is by hiking in from Stunt Road along the Calabasas Peak Motorway. This adds some extra mileage but eludes a $5 parking fee.
There are two basic trails within the park, Red Rocks Overlook and Red Rock Motorway. Red Rock Motorway is a wide fire road that starts at the parking lot and progresses up to a T-junction with the Calabasas Peak Motorway. The junction is 1.1 miles from the summit and 0.7 miles from Stunt Road. The total distance from the Red Rocks Trailhead to Calabasas Peak is 2.3 miles, and it is 1.9 miles from the Red Rocks Trailhead to Stunt Road.
A third of a mile from the trailhead along Red Rock Motorway, there is a tall sandstone formation on the left that begs to be explored (and should be). Climb above the small caves to gain a sweeping view of Red Rock Canyon.
Not far beyond the caves comes a junction with the Overlook Trail. This unmarked single track breaks off to the right and climbs 325 feet over 3/4 of a mile to more outstanding Red Rock views. Those looking to break off trail and do some bouldering, will find good opportunities along the way.
How far am I hiking again? A lot of numbers have been thrown around, so here are the basic distances for hiking in the park:
- From Stunt Road to the overlook is 4.5 miles round-trip
- From Red Rock Trailhead to the overlook is 2.5 miles round-trip
- From Red Rock Trailhead to Calabasas Peak is 4.6 miles round-trip
- From Red Rock Trailhead to the junction with the Calabasas Peak Motorway is 2.4 miles round-trip
Red Rocks Canyon is an enchanting spot. The drive into the park makes you feel as though you are entering a remote and rustic location, even if you are only miles from the 101. Leashed dogs and bicycles are permitted. There are bathrooms and a picnic area at the trailhead.
Red Rock Canyon
To get to the trailhead: Take the Valley Circle Drive/Topanga Canyon Blvd. exit off the 101, and head south on Mulholland Drive. Turn right on Valmar Road which becomes Old Topanga Canyon Road. Turn right when the road comes to an end on Mulholland Highway Road. After a short distance, turn left to get back on Old Topanga Canyon Road. Stay on this road as it weaves through canyon neighborhoods, and turn right on to Red Rock Road. Stay on Red Rock Road as it becomes narrow and unpaved. Continue past all of the “no parking” and “no trespassing” signs until the road ends at the park.
Trailhead address: 23601 West Red Rock Road, Topanga Canyon, CA 90290
Trailhead coordinates: 34.106015, -118.637138
For directions to the Stunt Road trailhead, review Calabasas Peak. Use the map below to create your own directions:
|Stunt High Trail to Saddle Peak|
This 8.2-mile hike combines Stunt High Trail and a section of the Backbone Trail to visit the 6th tallest summit in the Santa Monica Mountains.
|Malibu Creek Traverse|
This adventure hike explores the C-shaped gorge between Rock Pool and Century Lake in Malibu Creek State Park.
|Calabasas Peak from Stunt Road|
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.
|Calabasas Peak via Calabasas – Cold Creek Trail|
This 4.5-mile round trip hike starts up a scenic single track formerly know as the Secret Trail and ascends 750 feet to the summit of Calabasas Peak.
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.
This 2-mile visits the site of an old fire tower that still offers great views of the surrounding mountains.
|Backbone Trail to Saddle Peak|
This 2-mile hike approaches Saddle Peak from the east.
|More trails in the Santa Monica Mountains|
Explore other destinations in the range.
This one mile loop circles the interior of a small valley surrounded by tall rocks that serves as an excellent bouldering arena.
|Temescal Canyon in the Santa Monica Mountains|
This 2.6-mile loop offers a variety of scenery and decent exercise, despite its relative brevity.