Temescal Canyon in the Pacific Palisades provides a beautiful setting for a short hike. Wooded canyon? Check. Great exercise with a challenging climb? Check. Beautiful panoramic views of the Pacific coastline? This hike has all of the above. We checked this trail out late on a Saturday afternoon and were able to enjoy the sunset from Temescal Ridge.
Getting to the Trailhead
This hiking trail begins and ends in Temescal Gateway Park, located at 15601 Sunset Blvd., Pacific Palisades (at the intersection of Temescal Canyon Road and Sunset Boulevard). You can either find free parking on Temescal Canyon Road or pay for parking in the park. When we visited, parking fee was $7 for the day. As you head into the canyon, you’ll reach a series of buildings that are part of a conference center. There are restrooms here, as well as an information kisok with details on the history of the canyon and a map. Note that the maps show only the trails in the Temescal Gateway Park, and not the adjacent Topanga State Park (which this trail travels through).
We headed into the Temescal Canyon, watching for the signs to the trailhead. Although you could hike this in either direction, we wanted to take the Temescal Ridge Trail up to catch the sun before it set. We knew it would be getting dark on our way back, so we brought along our headlamps.
The trail was easy to locate, and begins immediately climbing steeply up the side of the canyon.
As you enter Topanga State Park, you’re reminded that dogs are not allowed on the trail. The trails twists and turns to climb quickly out of the canyon, then settles to a more gradual incline when you reach the ridge. There are several places along the way with great views of the coastline, so take time to stop and enjoy them.
The mid-point of the loop is almost exactly at the 1.5 mile mark. We reached the junction with the Temescal Canyon Trail. We departed from the ridge and began our descent into the canyon.
The Temescal Canyon Trail is much more shaded, with trees and brush often creating a tunnel of foliage to hike through.
At 1.9 miles, we reached the bridge overlooking what at times is probably an wonderful waterfall. Sadly, we haven’t had any measurable rain in a long while, so the best it could muster was a trickle. We will definitely return in the spring after we’ve had some good rain.
The last mile gently slopes down the bottom of the tree-lined Temescal Canyon. At this point, it was dark enough that we needed to flip on our headlamps. The crowds that swarmed the park earlier had disappeared and we had the trail to ourselves.
Finally we reached the conference center, passing a series of buildings and making our way back to the parking lot.
This was a little hike, and I can see why it’s popular with local trail runners. I’ll be back again to visit the waterfall and creek after we’ve had some rain.
Temescal Canyon Trail Map
Click on any photo to view a larger version. You can also leave comments on any photo.
Temescal Canyon Tips
- Pay for parking in Temescal Gateway Park, or find free parking outside of the park
More Temescal Canyon Resources
- Top Trails: Los Angeles by Jerry Schad
- Temescal Gateway Park – official website
- Temescal Canyon Trail Map – printable PDF
Wish I knew about your site when I lived in LA. Your interactive trail map is awesome – do you mind sharing how you created it? Thanks.
Jeff Hester says
As for the interactive maps, I’m not sure which you’re referring to. The “find a trail” is built using plain ol’ Google Maps. On the individual posts, I use a WordPress plugin called “WP GPX Maps” that takes an GPX file (generated from either my Garmin GPS or my iPhone on any number of apps). It handles the map and elevation profile using the Google Maps API.
Naturalist Kim, MRCA says
We loved your write-up about Temescal Canyon (and also your guides to trails in our other parks!) It’s great hearing about hikers’ first-hand experiences out on the trail. Hopefully, next time you get out there, you’ll receive the full waterfall effect. We could all use a little (or a LOT) of rain!
-MRCA (Mountains Recreation & Conservation Authority)
Jeff Hester says
Thanks for dropping and leaving a comment, Kim! I’m really hoping we get some rain soon. I have a long list of trails I want to hike (or re-hike) that really come alive after some rain.
My wife really enjoyed Temescal Canyon. Next time, we’re going to go early in the day and include the trip to Skull Rock.
Love this hike. It’s short but a good workout.
Shannon Tanner (@shanhikes) says
Fun longer hike – go up either half of the loop, continue to Skull Rock and then continue on until you reach the Backbone Trail (near Temescal Peak) – then back toward Will Rogers via Backbone, and Rivas Canyon back to Temescal to complete the loop. 13-15 miles depending on if I believe my gps or my map. A great half day training hike!
Bhavani Arimilli says
I stumbled on your site as I was looking into hikes to take during our spring break vacation in LA. My one big question – and I’m having a difficult time finding answers – is whether a rideshare can pick up from some of these trailheads. We have a rental car reserved, but would prefer to go rideshare. My only concern with rideshare is whether we’ll get a signal when we’re done with our hikes. The two hikes of interest are Temescal and Solstice Canyon. We’re staying in Santa Monica and would definitely consider other trails if the rideshare option works better from those trailheads. Bear in mind we’ll have our 10-year old too, but she’s pretty athletic. Do you have any insights or feedback?
Thanks in advance for any info!
Jeff Hester says
Hi Bhavani! You should have no issues with mobile coverage at the Temescal Canyon trailhead in Pacific Palisades. I’m not sure about Solstice Canyon.
Another hike to consider (though you probably want to drive there; not sure about cell coverage) is the M*A*S*H hike in Malibu Creek State Park.
Elisa Schwartz says
I’ve hiked Temescal at least 100 times — the designation that this is a moderate hike, to me, is misleading. For me (and my hiking partner) it’s always heart pounding — in a good way. If I’m going to hike, I like a workout. Not sure if it’s the elevation, but even at my most fit, this is not a basic walk-like hike. For most it gets your heart going 🙂 Make sure to bring water, it’s not all covered, especially if you’re going to go for the full hike up the peak where the view is incredible.
Angela Mah says
Is there a group that meet to hike together? If yes, what are the schedules for it?