Rivas Canyon Trail hike between Temescal Gateway Park and Will Rogers State Park

Rivas Canyon lies between Will Rogers State Park and Temescal Gateway Park. Rivas Canyon Trail crosses the ridge east of Temescal Canyon and travels down rustic Rivas Canyon to connect the two parks on a single-track that is 2.1 miles from end to end with 480 feet of elevation between the high and low points of the trail.

Temescal Canyon
Looking up Temescal Canyon from the start of Rivas Canyon Trail

This scenic trail can be accessed from both parks. To reach the trail from the west end at Temescal Gateway Park, first walk 0.15 miles north of the entrance up Temescal Canyon Trail. This is the main road in the center of the canyon. Look for a dirt single track on the right labeled Rivas Canyon. Turn right and begin hiking up the east side of the canyon. The trail climbs chaparral-covered slopes up a ridge protruding into Temescal Canyon. Saplings arch over the trail to provide intermittent shade. A quarter mile up, continue right through a junction, following the sign for Rivas Canyon.

Half a mile above the canyon floor, the trail gains the ridge, rewarding hikers with excellent views over the Pacific Ocean, Santa Monica Bay, and Palos Verdes Peninsula. This is a perfect place to watch the sunset if you happen to be hiking (back) this way at that time.

Rivas Canyon Trail Sunset View
Looking out over Santa Monica Bay from Rivas Canyon Trail at sunset

Progress east across the ridge, reaching a high point of 780 feet before descending 300 feet into Rivas Canyon over half a mile of switchbacks. The ivy-covered slopes lead to a junction at the canyon bottom. Turn right following a sign that reads, “WILL ROGERS 1.1 MI.”

The easy-to-follow single track progresses southward down the lush, secluded bottom of Rivas Canyon through a thriving oak woodland. Cross a patch of tall sycamores before coming to the edge of a Pacific Palisades neighborhood lower in the canyon. The trail passes alongside a brick wall that leads to the paved cul-de-sac at the top of Rivas Canyon Road. Across the road, Rivas Canyon Trail continues another 0.2 miles up to Will Rogers State Park. If you are headed back to Temescal Canyon, feel free to turn around here; make your way back up Rivas Canyon and over the ridge, creating a 3.8-mile round trip hike with 480 feet of elevation between the top of the ridge and the bottom of the canyon.
To get to the Temescal Gateway Park Trailhead: Temescal Gateway Park is located at the north end of Temescal Canyon Road at the intersection with Sunset Boulevard, one mile from PCH. Free parking can be found along Temescal Canyon Road and Sunset Blvd. Parking inside the park is $7. Those who park in the lot should exercise caution passing through the intersection with the camera that issues tickets to those who do not come to a full stop.

Trailhead address: Sunset Boulevard & Temescal Canyon Road, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
Trailhead coordinates: 34.055895, -118.528326 (34° 03′ 21.22″N 118° 31′ 41.97″W)

To get to the Will Rogers State Park Trailhead: Take Sunset Boulevard to Will Rogers State Park Road, located 4.5 miles west of the 405 and three miles east of PCH. At the light, turn north on Will Rogers State Park Road. Drive 3/4 of a mile up the mountainside to the park entrance. Pull past the gate and park in the lot on the left.

Trailhead address: 1501 Will Rogers State Park Road, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
Trailhead coordinates: 34.054774, -118.510087 (34° 03′ 17.18″N 118° 30′ 36.31″W)

Elevation Profile
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Trail Map

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These photos were taken in November of 2010. Click to enlarge.
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3 Comments on Rivas Canyon in the Santa Monica Mountains

  1. Denise wrote:

    I’m not sure why this only got three stars? This was a great hike. HOWEVER, most people DIDN’T have their dogs on leashes. One dog came at my husband and I…NOT acceptable! People, the law is leash your dogs. You’re going to spoil it for others who do when they decide to change these trails to NO DOGS. Other than that it was a lot of fun.

    • hikespeak wrote:

      The rating is an average of votes provided by readers, so it changes over time. Feel free to contribute your own rating.

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