With its unique craggy surface and panoramic views, Eagle Rock is one of the most exciting hiking destinations in Topanga State Park. There are several ways to get to the 1,957-foot summit. For hikers leaving from the park’s main trailhead at Trippet Ranch, Musch Trail is an excellent route. The narrow trail is half a mile longer than the more traveled Eagle Springs Fire Road, and is off limits to bikers as it cuts through sagebrush terrain. But why choose between the two trails? Combine Musch Trail and Eagle Springs Fire Road for a 4.5 mile loop from Trippet Ranch to Eagle Rock with 800 feet of elevation gain.
If you elect to hike to Eagle Rock as a loop, you will be better positioned to enjoy the scenery by hiking up Eagle Springs Fire Road and down Musch Trail. However, if you only want to hike Musch Trail, here is a quick rundown of those direction before getting to the loop.
Just Musch: Start up the paved trail to the right of the bathrooms at Trippet Ranch. Pass through a thin strip of forest and across a grass field. After a tenth of a mile, veer to the right on a dirt single track, following a sign for Musch Camp. Proceed into an oak grove and cross a small wooden footbridge after another tenth of a mile. Continue through the riparian ravine, climbing up to a bench, 2/3 of a mile from the start where you can rest your legs and enjoy a great view of Topanga Canyon.
A quarter mile ahead, take the sharp right turn in the trail and continue another tenth of a mile to Musch Camp. Stay to left through the trail camp and push up the mountain slope. You will climb 350 feet over the next 1.1 miles as the views over Topanga Canyon and the Santa Monica Mountains grow and grow.
Musch Trail ends at a junction with Eagle Springs Fire Road, alongside the connection trail to Eagle Rock. Make the hard left turn on Eagle Rock Fire Road and climb half a mile up the rutted road to Eagle Rock.
Do the Loop: For loopy hikers, you will catch the best views taking Eagle Springs Fire Road to Eagle Rock and returning to Trippet Ranch via Musch Trail. Begin up the wide fire road departing from the south end of the parking lot next to the sign labeled “Trippett Ranch Trailhead.” Follow the connection trail as it turns right then left up a grassy slope spotted with oaks. After a quarter mile, you will come to a T-junction. To the right, East Topanga Fire Road heads south toward Parker Mesa Overlook.
Turn left, heading northeast toward Eagle Rock. The wide and well maintained trail continues uphill through a few more clusters of oaks in an area beloved by the park’s mule deer population. Just before the last batch of trees, approximately 0.4 miles from the start, you will pass a junction with Santa Ynez Canyon Trail on the right. This trail can be used to reach Eagle Rock from a trailhead lower in the Pacific Palisades. (From the bottom of Santa Ynez Canyon to Eagle Rock is 7.4-mile round trip with 1,400 feet of elevation gain.)
Continue up Eagle Springs Fire Road, which climbs a grass covered ridge, delivering growing views over the Santa Monica Mountains. Santa Ynez Canyon and a sliver of the Pacific can be seen to the right. To the left, you can look down over Topanga Canyon and across the range toward Topanga Lookout and Saddle Peak. After another 0.8 miles, the trail crests a high point in the ridge at 1,700 feet and gradually descend to a 4-way junction.
Straight ahead Eagle Spring Fire Road continues northeast toward Temescal Ridge. To the left, another wide trail, Eagle Rock Fire Road angles uphill to Eagle Rock. To the far left, Musch Trail descends toward Musch Camp and Trippet Ranch. Don’t turn back now! First hike up Eagle Rock Fire Road.
Gain close to 300 feet over the last half mile on a rocky and rutted road. A third of the way up the trail, get an excellent view of Eagle Rock, a massive block of sandstone jutting out of the chaparral doing an impersonation of Swiss cheese.
Two thirds of the way up, find an expansive view in the other direction looking back over Eagle Springs Fire Road and the lovely park you just crossed. Once you reach Eagle Rock, you will be happy you made the climb.
The road continues past the summit, so take the path to the right past a wooden bench up to the pothole-filled pinnacle. There are panoramic views from Eagle Rock, overlooking Santa Monica Bay, the San Fernando Valley, and all the mountains in between. Relax and enjoy the lofty perch, which has arches and sandstone alcoves to explore.
Want more? To extend the hike to another summit, continue east from Eagle Rock on Eagle Rock Fire Road for 0.7 to Hub Junction. Head south on Temescal Ridge Trail for half a mile, make a left up the Backbone Trail and another left up a single track to reach the 2,1,26-foot top of Temescal Peak, 1.4 miles from Eagle Rock. Return to Hub Junction and take Eagle Springs Fire Road west for 1.3 miles to reach Eagle Junction at the other end of Eagle Rock Fire Road and the top of Musch Trail. This 3.4-mile extension will add a second summit and a loop to your hike to Eagle Rock (effectively extending the hike by 2.9 miles as it replaces the half mile hike back down Eagle Rock Fire Road).
Hiking back on Musch Trail: As you descend the dirt single track, you will be facing out from the mountain, enjoying grand views over Topanga Canyon and the Santa Monica Mountains to the west. Weave down a slope of chaparral and sage over 1.1 miles to reach Musch Camp. This hike-in campground offers eight tent sites to backpackers with amenities like picnic tables, drinking water, and flush toilets. Sites may be reserved for $7 per night on a first-come first-serve basis (price as of 2018).
Take a swig from the water fountain and continue down Musch Trail, which angles to the right through a grass field and more chaparral. You will reach a bench along the trail with 2/3 of a mile to go. Have a seat and enjoy the view over Topanga Canyon. Then slip down across a small shaded ravine before emerging from the oaks to cross one last grass slope down to a paved road. Turn left and stroll back to Trippet Ranch, just a tenth of a mile away.
Dogs are not allowed on this hike in Topanga State Park. Although mountain bikes are not permitted on Musch Trail, they are allowed on all the other wide trails in Topanga State Park. The Trippet Ranch trailhead area is open from 8:00 a.m. to sunset. A $10 day use fee is charged to park at Trippet Ranch (price as of 2018). Free parking may also be available along the road just outside the park.
To get to the trailhead: From PCH, take Topanga Canyon Road inland for 4.6 miles to Entrada Road. Alternately, from the 101 Freeway, drive 7.7 miles south on Topanga Canyon Road to reach Entrada Road. Turn east on Entrada Road and drive up the mountain for one mile, following signs for Topanga State Park.
Trailhead address: 20829 Entrada Road, Topanga Canyon, CA 90290
Trailhead coordinates: 34.0933, -118.5874 (34° 05′ 35.87″N 118° 35′ 14.64″W)
|Eagle Rock from Santa Ynez Canyon |
This 7.4-mile hike takes the long route from a canyon in the Pacific Palisades up to the panoramic sandstone summit.
|Parker Mesa Overlook from Trippet Ranch |
This 6.7-mile round trip hike heads up to an incredibly scenic overlook from Topanga State Park's main trailhead.
|Parker Mesa Overlook from Paseo Miramar |
This steep out-and-back hike visits Parker Mesa Overlook from the opposite direction, delivering more knockout ocean views.
|Hondo Canyon |
This section of the Backbone Trail crosses fields of grains and forests of bays, climbing 1,550 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.
|Viewridge Trail |
This 3-mile hike in Summit Valley Edmund D. Edelman Park travels down a canyon on Viewridge Trail (also known Santa Maria Canyon Trail) to Summer Hill Ranch Road where there are sweeping views over Topanga and the Santa Monica Mountains from Canyon Overlook.
|Vanalden Cave |
This 0.6-mile round trip hike visits a unique sandstone cave that you can stand inside and above. The hike can be extended to 1.55 miles round trip to visit a nearby vista point with a panoramic perspective of the Santa Monica Mountains.
|Santa Ynez Falls |
This 2.5-mile follows a shaded creek to a gorge containing a short waterfall.
| 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.
|More trails in the Santa Monica Mountains |
Explore other destinations in the range.