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A shady passage out of L.A.

Ocean views and a trickling stream hightlight a visit to Temescal Canyon near Pacific Palisades

The seemingly ridiculous concept of hiking in Los Angeles is belied by the availability of many fine trails not necessarily in the city itself, but rather within city limits and just beyond the edge of the urban plain. Many of these trails ascend into the Santa Monica Mountains, or rather the "Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area," which encompasses various state parks and other public lands. The following 2.8-mile route, a favorite of west-side L.A. hikers, includes expansive views from high places and a shady passage through riparian and oak woodland.

Park north of Sunset Boulevard on Temescal Canyon Road, short of the Conference Grounds that are now a part of the new Temescal Gateway Park. On foot, find and follow the narrow trail that starts climbing the scrubby canyon wall to the west. After eight short switchbacks, the trail sticks to an open ridge with a 180-degree view of distant horizons. Pause often so you can admire the coastline curving from Santa Monica Bay to Malibu.

At 1.3 miles, the trail meets the Temescal Ridge Trail, a fire road that follows a viewful but shadeless ridge north all the way to Mulholland Drive. At this point you have the option of making a side trip north 0.5 mile to a wind-carved, sandstone outcrop known as Skull Rock that lies within Topanga State Park.

Staying on the loop route, turn right and start down the eroded bed of the former Temescal Fire Road. When you hit the shady canyon bottom (1.7 miles), you'll cross over a creek and pick up a better section of the old fire road on the far side. Above and below this crossing may be (depending on the season) small, trickling waterfalls and shallow, limpid pools.

The final stretch follows the canyon bottom, then contours along a slope to the right of the conference buildings. Lots of live oak, sycamore, willow, and bay trees, their woodsy scents commingling on the ocean breeze, highlight your return.

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The seemingly ridiculous concept of hiking in Los Angeles is belied by the availability of many fine trails not necessarily in the city itself, but rather within city limits and just beyond the edge of the urban plain. Many of these trails ascend into the Santa Monica Mountains, or rather the "Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area," which encompasses various state parks and other public lands. The following 2.8-mile route, a favorite of west-side L.A. hikers, includes expansive views from high places and a shady passage through riparian and oak woodland.

Park north of Sunset Boulevard on Temescal Canyon Road, short of the Conference Grounds that are now a part of the new Temescal Gateway Park. On foot, find and follow the narrow trail that starts climbing the scrubby canyon wall to the west. After eight short switchbacks, the trail sticks to an open ridge with a 180-degree view of distant horizons. Pause often so you can admire the coastline curving from Santa Monica Bay to Malibu.

At 1.3 miles, the trail meets the Temescal Ridge Trail, a fire road that follows a viewful but shadeless ridge north all the way to Mulholland Drive. At this point you have the option of making a side trip north 0.5 mile to a wind-carved, sandstone outcrop known as Skull Rock that lies within Topanga State Park.

Staying on the loop route, turn right and start down the eroded bed of the former Temescal Fire Road. When you hit the shady canyon bottom (1.7 miles), you'll cross over a creek and pick up a better section of the old fire road on the far side. Above and below this crossing may be (depending on the season) small, trickling waterfalls and shallow, limpid pools.

The final stretch follows the canyon bottom, then contours along a slope to the right of the conference buildings. Lots of live oak, sycamore, willow, and bay trees, their woodsy scents commingling on the ocean breeze, highlight your return.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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