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Temescal Canyon Loop

  4.1 ( 10 ) Favorite


3.8 mile 6.1 kilometer loop


Ascent: 930' 284 m
Descent: -926' -282 m
High: 1,186' 361 m
Low: 277' 85 m


Avg Grade: 9% (5°)
Max Grade: 32% (18°)


No Dogs
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Trail shared by John McKinney

A loop into the mountains above Santa Monica.

John McKinney

Features River/Creek · Views · Waterfall

Dogs aren't allowed on the loop within the Topanga State Park boundary.


This 3.8 mile loop allows you to experience a quintessential Santa Monica Mountains' landscape while having great views of the coastline and L.A.


Start out this loop at the Temescal Gateway Park. Either park here (for a fee) or park along Sunset Blvd. and make your way to the park by foot.

From Temescal Gateway Park, head into the canyon by taking the designated trail that goes by the provided restrooms. Soon enough, you'll come across a trail junction with the Temescal Ridge Trail, avoid turning left here and continue on the Temescal Canyon Trail before reaching the Topanga State Park boundary.

The trail continues to rise up into the canyon as it eventually crosses a bridge over Temescal Creek that features a waterfall. The trail then becomes a fair bit steeper as it departs the canyon and heads west, making its way to Temescal Ridge. At this point, the Temescal Canyon Trail ends as it intersects the Temescal Ridge Trail. Follow the Temescal Ridge Trail to the left down the hill and toward Santa Monica. At this point on the loop you'll have amazing views of the nearby coastline, islands, and downtown L.A. The descent from here is decently steep. You'll then pass by the opportunity to turn off onto Bienveneda and Leacock trails, make sure you stay on the Temescal Ridge Trail as you hike over the thin ridge line before reaching the intersection with the Temescal Canyon Trail. From here follow the Temescal Canyon Trail back down to Temescal Gateway Park, where the loop originated.

Thanks to John McKinney, The Trailmaster, for sharing this trail description. To learn more about trails in California, check out his guides at The Trailmaster Store.

Flora & Fauna

Oak, maple, and sycamore trees.

History & Background

Temescal canyon has a long history associated with it. In the 20's and 30's the canyon was host to Chautauqua assemblies. Then in 1943 the land was bought by the Presbyterian Synod to be used as a retreat. Then, in 1995 the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy became the owner of the canyon's land.

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We need help with the following missing trail information:

Family Friendly, ADA Accessible, Need to Know


Land Manager: NPS - Topanga State Park

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Oct 14, 2019
Ron Del Rio
3.9mi — 1h 46m
Sep 8, 2019
Amanda C
Aug 24, 2019
Jennifer Wasson
Aug 7, 2019
Lily Yang
Jun 30, 2019
Herbert Walls
Jun 23, 2019
Ron Del Rio
Water in the waterfall 4.1mi — 2h 56m
Jun 3, 2019
Vitaly Polonetsky
Jun 1, 2019
Russel Stark
Counter clockwise direction. Overcast day. Nice views even with haze. 4.2mi — 2h 20m

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Trail Ratings

  4.1 from 10 votes


  4.1 from 10 votes
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in California


175 Views Last Month
3,874 Since Jul 17, 2017



The Temescal Canyon Trail heads through a foliage tunnel.
Mar 17, 2017 near Santa M…, CA
While there's plenty of urban sprawl below, up here, you feel like you're on a different world.
Mar 17, 2017 near Santa M…, CA
The Temescal Ridge Trail quickly gains altitude, offering you gorgeous views of Santa Monica and the Pacific Ocean.
Mar 17, 2017 near Santa M…, CA
Canyon shaded view
Jan 2, 2018 near Santa M…, CA


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