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Hills like rumpled bedsheets

Enjoy a comprehensive view of coastal L.A. and Malibu from Parker Mesa Overlook

From the shore of the Pacific Ocean, just west of Santa Monica, the fluted slopes of the Santa Monica Mountains rise like rumpled bedsheets after a night of tossing and turning. From a vantage point known as Parker Mesa Overlook, slightly more than a horizontal mile from the beach and 1500 feet higher, you get a bird's-eye view of surfers off Topanga Beach, the crescent shoreline of Santa Monica Bay, L.A.'s west-side cityscape -- and much, much more if the air is really transparent.

The five-mile round-trip hike to the overlook is especially rewarding when done early on mornings when tendrils of soupy fog fill the canyons, leaving higher elevations high and dry. For a special treat, try this walk on any clear, full-moon evening between May and August. In the fading twilight you'll watch the moon's pumpkin-like disk silently materialize in the east or southeast, hovering over a million glittering lights.

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To reach the most convenient trailhead, turn north on Paseo Miramar from Sunset Boulevard 0.3 mile north of Pacific Coast Highway. This intersection is one block north of a turnoff for Los Liones Drive. Drive up narrow Paseo Miramar to or near its dead end, and find parking wherever you can. (Alternately, you can drive to the end of Los Liones Drive and utilize the Los Liones Trail, a longer alternative route.)

Starting from the sturdy vehicle gate at the end of Paseo Miramar, walk uphill on the unpaved East Topanga Fire Road, passing the upper end of the Los Liones Trail after about 200 yards. Farther ahead you briefly traverse a cool, north-facing slope overlooking Santa Ynez Canyon and neighboring ridges. At 2.0 miles, you arrive at a fire-road junction overlooking Topanga Canyon to the west. Turn left (south) and walk out along the bald ridge to Parker Mesa Overlook.

Down below in front of you are Parker and Castellammare Mesas, parts of a striking marine-terrace structure that continues east into Pacific Palisades. Marine terraces were carved into the Southern California coastal landscape at various times in the "recent" geologic past -- as early as one or two million years ago.

When it's time to go back, return the way you came.

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From the shore of the Pacific Ocean, just west of Santa Monica, the fluted slopes of the Santa Monica Mountains rise like rumpled bedsheets after a night of tossing and turning. From a vantage point known as Parker Mesa Overlook, slightly more than a horizontal mile from the beach and 1500 feet higher, you get a bird's-eye view of surfers off Topanga Beach, the crescent shoreline of Santa Monica Bay, L.A.'s west-side cityscape -- and much, much more if the air is really transparent.

The five-mile round-trip hike to the overlook is especially rewarding when done early on mornings when tendrils of soupy fog fill the canyons, leaving higher elevations high and dry. For a special treat, try this walk on any clear, full-moon evening between May and August. In the fading twilight you'll watch the moon's pumpkin-like disk silently materialize in the east or southeast, hovering over a million glittering lights.

Sponsored
Sponsored

To reach the most convenient trailhead, turn north on Paseo Miramar from Sunset Boulevard 0.3 mile north of Pacific Coast Highway. This intersection is one block north of a turnoff for Los Liones Drive. Drive up narrow Paseo Miramar to or near its dead end, and find parking wherever you can. (Alternately, you can drive to the end of Los Liones Drive and utilize the Los Liones Trail, a longer alternative route.)

Starting from the sturdy vehicle gate at the end of Paseo Miramar, walk uphill on the unpaved East Topanga Fire Road, passing the upper end of the Los Liones Trail after about 200 yards. Farther ahead you briefly traverse a cool, north-facing slope overlooking Santa Ynez Canyon and neighboring ridges. At 2.0 miles, you arrive at a fire-road junction overlooking Topanga Canyon to the west. Turn left (south) and walk out along the bald ridge to Parker Mesa Overlook.

Down below in front of you are Parker and Castellammare Mesas, parts of a striking marine-terrace structure that continues east into Pacific Palisades. Marine terraces were carved into the Southern California coastal landscape at various times in the "recent" geologic past -- as early as one or two million years ago.

When it's time to go back, return the way you came.

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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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