Week 252: Topanga Canyon

November 21, 2021

 AllTrails Summit Valley Edmund D. Edelman Park, 2.1 mile loop.

Barbara and I have only done a few hikes in Topanga Canyon's 76 miles of trails, so we took advantage of this beautiful November morning to add another to our repertoire. Topanga means "where the mountain meets the sea" in the language of the Tongva Indians, the tribe that occupied much of SoCal since they arrived 3,500 years ago before the collective we showed up. Though its too far inland for an ocean view, oaks, sycamore, and one of the oldest walnut woodlands in the Santa Monica Mountains grow in this 652 acre hillside pocket named in 1994 as a tribute to former LA County Supervisor Edmund D. Edelman (1931–2016). Edelman, known for fighting the establishment, made environmental preservation one of his priorities. Without his efforts to forge a deal between the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and developers, this valley—a key link in the E–W wildlife corridor—would be filled with luxury homes, a golf course, tennis clubs, and a sewage treatment plant. Instead, today we joined hikers and mountain bikers on a trail looping up and around Summit Valley. We chose to hike counterclockwise, a wise decision as we later discovered. The first half mile of the trail led us through grassland, easy enough until the path began its rise, complete with a few mountain bike "whoops," toward the summit. The higher we climbed, the more slippery the trail got, but the effort was worthwhile. At the summit we were treated to a gorgeous view—a panorama of the valley in front and behind us with a glimpse at other trails spidering off from ours. On the way down, the trail again looked simple enough. Preteen trees (we guessed) along a wide, park-like path lasted for about a quarter-mile, and then... Hello, rocky, narrow, gullied path down. But challenge is what hiking is all about, right? A small parking lot off Topanga Canyon Blvd. with $5 envelope parking, light traffic on the trail (we saw 4 hikers, 2 dogs, and 4 mountain bikers on the whole trail), and a variety of almost everything woodsy that makes mountain hiking fun. Loved it.





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