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Hike Los Liones Canyon to Parker Mesa Overlook

Hiking Los Leones Canyon Trail to Parker Mesa Overlook

Hiking Los Leones Canyon Trail to Parker Mesa Overlook

Los Liones Canyon winds it’s way through brush that at times spills over the trail, creating a tunnel. It climbs, and climbs… and climbs (you’ll really feel it on a hot sunny day), finally reaching the epic coastal views of Parker Mesa Overlook. This is a great seven mile out-and-back hike with decent vertical gain that makes a great training hike. It begins with winding single track but quickly joins wide, double-track fire roads with plenty of sunlight.

Trail Details
Distance: 7.3 miles
Time: 2-3 hours
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation gain: 1,580 ft
Dogs: No
When to go: Year-round
GPX File
The trail is part of Topanga State Park and connects to a number of other trails. Signs clearly mark the junctions and the mileage, making it an easy path to follow. And being an out-and-back route, you can choose to shorten the hike, stopping whenever is best for you and retracing your steps. Benches at the Parker Mesa Overlook make the perfect place for a lunch or snack while you soak in the views of the California coastline and rest your legs for the mostly-downhill hike back.

Getting to the Trailhead

The trailhead begins at the end of Los Liones Drive in Pacific Palisades. Your best bet is to get driving directions via Google Maps. There are a couple of small parking lots, or you can park along the street. Be sure to check the signs so you don’t end up with a parking ticket. This trailhead can get quite busy, so you may need to park further down Los Liones. You can either walk along the side of the street or take the dirt trail that runs parallel on the east side of the street.

Starting the Los Leones Canyon Trail
Most signs even within Topanga State Park describe this as Los Liones Canyon, except for this sign at the trailhead.

The Trail

For the first mile, the trail winds back and forth through the canyon with dense brush on either side. In the spring, this trail can be lush with green and wildflowers, but much of the year it’s pretty dry.

At about a mile in, you’ll reach a vista point and junction with the Paseo Miramar Trail. Take a hard left, following the wide fire road up the hill.

Heading up the fire road

The dirt road provides a broad and fairly consistent surface, but very little shade. At about 2.3 miles you reach a crest and descend slightly, following rolling hills dotted with a few old oak trees and a surprise meadow.

The trail rolls up and down, reaching the junction to Parker Mesa Overlook at the 3 mile mark.

Junction to Parker Mesa Overlook

Here you’ll turn toward the coast, and follow the ridge all the way out to the overlook half a mile away.

The Parker Mesa Overlook has several benches strategically placed to give you a chance to rest your feet, eat a snack and soak in the amazing views up and down the coast.

Benches at Parker Mesa Overlook

Time it right, and you can enjoy the sunset and watch the city light up as night falls.

Santa Monica lights up at night
Photo: Patrik Bangle

When you’re ready, turn around and retrace your steps three miles back to the trailhead.

Los Liones to Parker Mesa Trail Map

Download file: los-liones-to-parker-mesa.gpx

Photo Gallery

Click on any photo to view a larger version. You can also leave comments on any photo.

Tips for Hiking Los Liones Canyon

First of all, you should note that some of the signs spell the canyon Los Leones, though most of them use Los Liones. Don’t be confused. They are one and the same.

  • Even though this is a day hike, you should have the 10 essentials, especially sun protection and water. This trail has a lot of exposure and can get hot on a sunny day.
  • Sorry Fido. No dogs are allowed, even on leash.
  • Ticks are found in this area. Try to avoid brush, consider wearing long pants and check for ticks after your hike.
  • Mountain lions live in these mountains. Although encounters are rare, should you run across one, raise your hands over your head to appear bigger and make a lot of noise. It’s also a great idea to hike with friends that you can outrun.
  • As an out-and-back hike, you can modify this hike to make it shorter with less vertical gain.

More Los Liones Canyon Resources

Los Liones Canyon Weather Forecast

[forecast width=”100%” location=”90272″]

All photos Jeff Hester, June 2015 unless noted otherwise.

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