Los Angeles Top Trails

Temescal Canyon
By Jerry Schad
  |  Gorp.com
Key Info

0.0 – Follow the Temescal Ridge Trail uphill from the conference buildings
1.3 – Turn right on the Temescal Canyon Trail; descend into Temescal Canyon
1.7 – Cross footbridge over Temescal Creek
2.8 – Finish at conference buildings

Trail Use: Hike, run
Length: 2.8 miles, 1.5 hours
Elevation Gain/Loss: 850'/850'
Difficulty: 1 2 3 4 5 +
Trail Type: Loop
Surface Type: Dirt

Features: Child friendly, canyon, streams, waterfall, wildflowers, wildlife, cool & shady, great views


Excerpted from Top Trails: Los Angeles by Jerry Schad

THE ACCESSIBLE ONE: Literally "across the street" from trendy Pacific Palisades, the Temescal Canyon loop hike offers broad ocean vistas and a serene passage down woodsy Temescal Canyon.

Finding the Trail
Begin at Temescal Gateway Park, just north of the intersection of Sunset Blvd. and Temescal Canyon Road in Pacific Palisades. Park for a fee inside the park, sunrise to sunset, or find a curbside space in the commercial district of Pacific Palisades across Sunset Boulevard.

Trail Description
Using directional signs on the Temescal Gateway Park property, head north toward several buildings that comprise the former Presbyterian conference grounds, and pick up the Temescal Ridge Trail. The narrow trail immediately starts a vigorous ascent up the scrubby canyon wall to the west. After several twists and turns, the trail gains a moderately ascending crest and sticks to it. Pause often so you can turn around and look at the ever-widening view of the coastline curving from Santa Monica Bay to Malibu. Ahead, two short trails (the Leacock and Bienveneda trails) strike off to the left toward a trailhead at the end of Bienveneda Avenue.

Ignore those paths and continue to a junction (1.3 miles from the start) with the former Temescal Ridge fire road, which is signed Temescal Ridge Trail to the north, and Temescal Canyon Trail to the south. You'll turn right at that junction and follow the Temescal Canyon Trail into the shady bottom of Temescal Canyon.

At the bottom, you cross Temescal Canyon's creek on a footbridge. Above and below that bridge are small, trickling waterfalls and shallow, limpid pools. You can poke around the creek a bit for a look at its typical denizens—water striders and newts.

When you've finished sightseeing, continue down the trail back to the conference grounds, a mile away.

Dogs on leash are allowed in Temescal Gateway Park, but not on the loop route described above, which mostly lies on Topanga State Park land. Hikers and their intrepid pets, however, may greatly enjoy the beautiful new (if somewhat sketchy and poison-oak infested) Rivas Canyon Trail. This 2-mile route ascends east from the conference grounds, tops a ridge, zigzags downward into semi-shaded Rivas Canyon, and finally enters a back corner of Will Rogers State Historic Park.

Article © Wilderness Press. All rights reserved.

Published: 28 Sep 2004 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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