Week 235: Eagle Rock at Topanga State Park

March 28, 2021

AllTrails.com "Eagle Rock via East Topanga Fire Road," 5 miles.  

There's nothing quite like the feeling of scaling up a grainy sandstone rock to the peak of a mountain 1,931-ft. above sea level, not to mention the grand payoff: a 360 view of the Santa Monica Mountains, the Valley, and the Pacific Ocean. Barbara, Adam, and I met at the Topanga State Park parking lot off Entrada Road, about a mile east of Topanga Canyon Blvd., and started our two-mile trek from the East Topanga Fire Road Trailhead to Eagle Rock. Originally named "Elephant Rock" by a local rancher's grandson, when the 11,000 acre Topanga State Park was established in 1964, the map maker simply named the rock after nearby Eagle Springs, and Eagle Rock confusion (the city/rock near Pasadena? Nope, the outcropping/rock in Topanga) was born. The hike north on the East Topanga Fire Road Trail was a no-decision, no-confusion climb that allowed us to gawk at the view—Mother Nature is decked out in vibrant greens these days. The up, up, up elevation gain isn't steep, but it's constant. At about the one-mile mark, the Pacific Ocean and Catalina Island came into view. A half mile later we caught the first glimpse of Eagle Rock, a sandstone pinnacle carved out by the wind over thousands and thousands of years. Glorious. Eagle Rock is a popular destination for people and mountain bikers, so we were rarely alone on our way up. The last half mile to the top circled up the mountain and left us on the doorstep of Eagle Rock, a massive slice of sandstone just asking to be climbed. Adam was the first to reach the top, I followed, then Barbara. We took a snack break while enjoying the awesome panoramic view, then as we sat literally at the edge of a sheer 100-ft. drop, a voice from behind us said, "Will you take my picture?" We turned to a solo mountain climber who had scaled Eagle Rock from the steep side. Taken aback (and impressed) I took his photo and he disappeared back down the mountain. We took the "easy" way down the sandstone side, balancing every step on the slippery slope to the trail. A quarter-mile down we sidetracked to the Musch Trail for variety on the way back. The Musch Trail is part of the 67.79 mile Backbone Trail across the Santa Monica Mountains, and it gave us a completely different perspective of Topanga. The dirt trail wound us through grassland meadows to shaded, canopied areas with rock stairs and switchbacks, random lizards, a woodpecker, a bluebird, and a picnic area. Three miles later we were back in the parking lot, tired but happy. With its 36 miles of trails, Topanga State Park is a gorgeous place to hike. And, if you dare, try scaling Eagle Rock. It'll make you feel like Spider Man.







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