Sunday, January 10, 2016

Hike 2016.002 -- Parker Mesa Trail, Topanga State Park

Hiked Saturday, January 9. Only my second hike of the year. I'm getting off to a slow start.

Wound up here for two reasons. First, I had to drive out to a shopping mall inTopanga to return something. Second, I've got a bunch of California State Park Foundation day passes that expire on April 1. Gotta make a lot of visits, so I hit this one, today.
It would appear I hiked out of Topanga State Park only once before, about 2 1/2 years ago. Then, I took a huge loop that covered much of the central section of the park. Also around that time, I accessed the southern section of the park from Temescal Gateway Park, heading north, and from that same park, heading east.
I was somewhat pleasant surprised that I had no trouble finding the park entrance. From U.S. 101, you take the Topanga Canyon Blvd exit and head south. It was somewhat longer of a drive than I remembered, but otherwise easy to find.

On that previous trip, I had observed the Parker Mesa Trail, but decided on something longer. Well, this being several years later, and with me taking shorter hikes, now, six miles seemed just about right. Plus, in theory, I was supposed to work that night, although I was pretty sure I was going to be clouded out (I was).
Most people coming here park on the roads that approach the fee gate, but, again, since I had my day passes, I was going to use one. The actual parking lot was pretty small, but that's because most visitors park outside. Also, the poor weather helped keep crowds down. It was not a deserted hike by any means, but I did have some time to myself along the way.
From the visitor center, you head east and south, reaching Eagle Springs Fire Road and East Topanga Fire Road. To get to Parker Mesa, you turn right when you hit the fire road. Heading that way, it's East Topanga Fire Road. The trail cuts beneath some cliffs before long, and there was a fair-sized boulder that had clearly fallen quite recently, there on the trail.
Straight shot once you're on the fire road. No problem knowing the way to go. Once above the visitor center area, you've got nice views almost the whole way. Much of it is either looking west, down over Topanga Canyon Road, or east, upon the pink roofs of what must be really expensive, tract-looking homes or condos. That's Palisades Highlands.

You also have views to the north, and can see Eagle Rock from several points along the way, as well as at the trail's end.
The Tom Harrison map gives it as a net 330 foot gain from the visitor center to the end of the trail. However, it's got several ups and downs. Not super steep anywhere, but you can definitely get your heart pumping in places.
This was not the best day to visit this place, weather-wise. It was overcast, and the strong contrast between the "white" of the hazy sky and the darker greens and browns of the grasses made photography difficult. Also, the haze made most telephoto shots look pretty washed out.
Still, from that trail end, I could see Downtown Los Angeles (barely), Century City, the Santa Monica Pier, and, I am pretty sure, The Getty Villa (though I didn't know to look for that at the time). I could also see some surfers down about 1.5 miles to my south. They were pretty tiny, of course.
As noted previously, there were plenty of other folks on this trail, but it wasn't crazy crowded. There were a pair of horsewomen, who came galloping up behind me very quickly. Possibly the first time I heard the sounded of galloping hooves, closing behind me. That was different.
There were also a half-dozen or so mountain bikers. Everyone else I saw was on foot. There was one VERY large group, maybe 30 men. Not sure what sort of group that was. Many more couples and pairs and singles.
Returned the way I came. My Fitbit buzzed that I reached my 16,000 step goal within 1/2 mile of my return. Obviously, I had some fair number of steps in before I started. But it was nice to know I had reached my goal so early in the day.
Once back, I wandered around the parking area a bit. There's another trail that heads north from the lot, the Musch Trail. If I'm back at this park within the next few months, I'll take that trail, and maybe explore the north portion of the park.
No hike on Sunday. Had other errands to run. One of them was actually returning to the mall. Returned another jacket, and bought a third one. I'm trying to find something warm, because I've got those night shifts on the front lawn at Griffith Observatory, and it gets cold out there! I'm hoping my latest acquisition will do the trick.
Okay, so ten days into the new year. Two hikes. One blogged, one still to be blogged. And, still, a backlog from last year. So I should be able to blog my first hike later this week, and maybe one of my older ones before the weekend. Then, hopefully, two hikes over the MLK weekend. See you all later.

Oh, yes, about this last shot--On my return leg, I passed four of these little bags of dog poop within about a 100 yard section of trail. I hate people like this, who think they're doing us all a great favor by bagging their dog poop, then just leaving it on the trail for someone else to carry out. Those guys suck. Cleaning up after your pet means actually carrying that shit off the trail. Bring an extra bag and double bag it, if you need to. It's your dog; it's your responsibility.

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