Week 196: Inspiration Point—Will Rogers State Historic Park

December 22, 2019

Secret Walks #35: Will Rogers State Historic Park, 2.82 miles

Barbara and I ditched the holiday madness to revisit one of the prettiest hikes on the coast: the trails above Will Rogers State Historic Park in Pacific Palisades. Will Rogers—cowboy, writer, philosopher, and one of the most prominent progressive voices of the Jazz Age, was Hollywood's highest paid actor along the transition from silent movies to talkies. The famous cowboy bought this ranch in 1918, and his first project was an outdoor, regulation-size polo field to host riders like David Niven, Spencer Tracy, Walt Disney, and Clark Gable. Rogers and his family lived in the 31-room ranch house from 1920 to his untimely death in 1935. The polo field he designed is still active, in fact, yearly play of polo on the field was the one condition his wife Betty made when she deeded the 31-room ranch house, buildings, stables, and grounds to the state of California in 1944. Easy to find off Sunset Blvd. in the Palisades, park on Will Rogers State Park Road and walk up, or pay the $12 entrance fee to park in the lot. A lovely setting for an afternoon of picnicking on the grounds, taking riding lessons, renting trail horses, or touring the ranch house (listed on the National Register of Historic Places—you'll go home wanting to be a cowboy), or, like us, hike the trails above the ranch. Guided by Charles Fleming's Secret Walks hike #35, we tore ourselves away from the rocking chairs on the ranch house porch and headed for the Inspiration Loop Trailhead left of the stables. Mother Nature, that showoff, provided a holiday spectacular overhead as we climbed the gently sloped trail. At Inspiration Point, about 1.3-ish miles up, we were treated to a spectacular 180-view from the Pacific, the beaches, South Bay, Santa Monica, Westwood, and over to DTLA. Inspiring indeed! As we circled back down, we passed the eastern start point of the Backbone Trail, a 70-mile hike to Point Magu in Oxnard. We continued down our trail, bordering Topanga State Park canyon below, and finished with a stroll through the prettiest alley of eucalyptus trees that framed the city below and the ocean beyond. If the view doesn't inspire you, the quotes burned into the benches along the trail will. Hiking places like this always make us grateful to be living in Southern California. Happy Holidays!

“There is no trick to being a humorist when you have the whole government working for you.” 
Will Rogers

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