Eagle Rock in Topanga State Park is a popular destination for hikers, trail runners and mountain bikers. This iconic sandstone outcrop sits at an angle that attests to its seismic origins. In fact, there are two fault lines running through the park: the Topanga and the Santa Ynez faults.
Getting to the Trailhead
Like the Parker Mesa Overlook hike, the Eagle Rock hike begins at Trippet Ranch in Topanga Canyon. This ranch was originally homesteaded by the Robinson family back in the 1890s, and sold to Federal court judge Oscar Trippet in 1917. Today, it is the headquarters of Topanga State Park.
Trippet Ranch is located at 20825 Entrada Road, Topanga CA 90290. Click here to generate your own driving directions to the trailhead on Google Maps. The park is open from 8am to sunset, and charges $10 for day use parking. I prefer to pay for parking and support the park system, but you can park outside of the park on Entrada Road. Fair warning: there are signs explicitly stating that you must park off the pavement. I have seen cars partially hanging out on the pavement being ticketed, and I’m sure they ended up paying much more than the $10 parking fee.
Also at the parking area are restrooms, picnic tables and running water.
We began our hike in the southeast end of the parking lot at Trippet Ranch. You’ll see the large sign with mileage to key destinations in Topanga State Park.
We headed up the trail as the sun filtered through the ancient oak trees. At 0.25 miles, you reach a T-junction with the Eagle Springs Fire Road. Turn left, heading north toward Eagle Rock.
Here we also spied a mule deer calmly munching on the grass and casually watching us hike by.
At 1.5 miles, we reached Eagle Junction. This junction would form the mid-section of our figure-eight loop, and we would eventually cover all four trails that converge here. For now, follow the trail signs up to Eagle Rock.
This trail is part of the Backbone Trail which traverse 68 miles of the Santa Monica Mountains.
Follow this rutted trail up another 0.5 miles to a short spur to Eagle Rock. It is worth stopping to climb up the rock and soak in the views.
The sides of this rocky outcropping are pock-marked with small caves, nooks and even a small arch.
From Eagle Rock, you could return to Trippet Ranch either via your original approach or via the scenic Musch Trail, making it into a 4 mile trek. We were looking for something a little longer, so we returned to the main trail, turned right and headed east.
This section of the Backbone Trail took us higher still, but the climb was gradual and easy. There are two spur trails heading down the north side: the Cheney Trail and the Garapito Canyon Trail. We continued on, reaching Hub Junction at the 3.0 mile mark.
Hub Junction connects the Backbone Trail, the Temescal Ridge Trail and the Eagle Springs Fire Road. It derives its name from location — being roughly in the middle of Topanga State Park. There is a toilet and a shade structure, but no water.
When we were there it was like Grand Central Station — LOTS of groups of hikers and mountain bikers catching a breather and regrouping before the next segment of the trail.
We headed west on the Eagle Springs Fire Road back towards Eagle Junction. At the 4.45 mile mark, we returned to Eagle Junction — the mid-point of our figure eight. Crossing over the trail, we headed down the Musch Trail.
No mountain bikes are allowed on this pleasant single track trail. This trail had a good deal of shade, even in the winter, and was less-traveled.
The Musch Trail is also part of the Backbone Trail. In fact, at the 5.5 mile mark, we reached Musch Ranch — currently the only campsite on the Backbone Trail. Musch Ranch has a restroom and running water, as well as self-registration campsites (no reservation required).
The final 1.1 miles took as back to Trippet Ranch. The last stretch is on a paved path (head left here) to the parking lot.
This was a great hike with beautiful geology, wildlife and scenery. It was bustling on this Saturday morning, and we we glad we got an early start. When we returned to the Xterra, the lot had completely filled up.
After the hike, we headed to Abuelitas in Topanga Canyon for well-earned cerveza and carnitas.
Eagle Rock Trail Map
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Topanga State Park Tips
- Support our State Parks and pay for parking at Trippet Ranch. But if you really need to save a few bucks on parking, be sure you’re parked completely off the pavement on Entrada Road.
- Pick-up the park map for $2 at the entrance booth. It’s worth it.
- Get an early start. The park opens at 8am, and the parking lot was full by the time we finished our hike.
- Bring plenty of water and sunscreen. Much of the trail is exposed.
- The Musch Trail is longer, but much more scenic and less-traveled than the Eagle Springs Fire Road, and worth the hike.
- Dogs are permitted on leash in the picnic areas, but not on any of the trails.
- Add 1.4 miles to this with a spur trek from Hub Junction to the 2, 126 ft Temescal Peak
- Post hike refreshment? Check out the outdoor patio at Abuelitas Mexican Restaurant
More Topanga State Park Resources
- Official Topanga State Park website
- Hiking Eagle Rock and Temescal Peak – ModernHiker
- Top Trails: Los Angeles – Wilderness Press
So cool. I’ve only spent a handful of nights in California but I can say I’ve actually been to that park even though I didn’t get up to Eagle Rock. 🙂
Traci Lehman says
Looks like a super hike for this time of year!
Gene Cheltenham says
Good info on the hike to Eagle Rock. The Musch Trail is definitely the most scenic way to get there. You get a chance to get to see the flowers, oaks and of course the poison oak up close.
I volunteer in the park and our group, the Topanga Canyon Docents, have free 2 hour guided walks every Sunday starting at 10:00 at the Trippet Ranch parking lot. The walks run from January though June. Walking with a guide gives you a great way to get to know and appreciate the plants, animals and history of the park. Its one thing to go for a hike in the woods but walking the trails and being able to see and identify the flowers such as the Sticky Monkeyflower, Black Sage, Yucca Whippli and Popcorn Flower make the walk special.
Sgt Fig says
I did this today. I haven’t hiked this much since my military days. This was pretty cool and, I have to admit, it kicked my butt. I ended up hiking 8.7 miles (according to my phone) just under 4 hours. Pay attention in the Musch trail as you could easily get lost. It happened to me and I had to backtrack for 5 minutes or so. This trail is all dirt so if you find yourself walking in the grass/brush, go back because you’ll end up at a dead end, like what happened to me.
Just did this hike today – your write-up was extremely helpful! Initially only planned to go up to Eagle Rock via Eagle Springs Fire Road and down Musch, but decided to add the second loop once I got up there. Was very warm mid-day, but great views and decent shade coming down Musch. Thanks!