This might surprise you, but I’m not a fan of hikes. Generally speaking, I love the outdoors, but the outdoors does not love me back.
You see, I’m pale (see the side-bar for proof), and I need SPF 10,000 to have a moderate chance at warding off sunburns. Even when I take precautionary measures, my face starts to look somewhere in-between “purple heirloom tomato” and “boiled lobster” after five minutes in the sun.
… I’ll let that visual soak in. Lemme tell ya, it’s very attractive.
To top it all off, I’m not in shape. At all. The amount of huffing and complaining I do during an easy jog is downright embarrassing.
What am I a fan of, you might ask? Beautiful views. And unfortunately, to get a glimpse of those beautiful views, you have to embark on a hike every now and then.
As someone who’s a cross between a lazy sloth and an adventurer, I’ve made it my life’s mission to find the easiest hikes in Los Angeles with the biggest pay-offs. Whenever I’m in need of Pacific Ocean views, this easy hike is my go-to…
The Parker Mesa Overlook Hike
How to get there?
The Parker Mesa Overlook hike begins from the trailhead entrance at Topanga State Park, a beautiful state park nestled in the Santa Monica mountains. To get there, follow a windy road called Topanga Canyon Blvd, making sure to pull over now and then for the great views or to check out some of the local oddities. (The Great Wall of Topanga, for example.)
Make a turn onto Entrada, a narrow road lined with local houses. This pathway leads straight up to the state park entrance and parking lot.
What makes it an easy hike?
First of all, I feel like I should define what I consider to be an “easy” hike. I don’t necessarily define hikes as easy or difficult based on distance. I’ve seen hikes defined as “easy” simply due to the total distance being small, and then find myself cursing the hiking gods half-way up the trail because of the steep elevation gains. Personally, I’d much rather spend a little more time on the trail if it means the overall hike requires less exertion.
Here’s why I’d call the Parker Mesa Overlook an easy hike:
- Starting from the official Topanga State Park entrance makes finding parking easy. Simply take one of the designated spots, pay the suggested amount, and you’re on your way!
- Almost the entire trail is on the fire road, which means it is a mostly flat trail. This is the main reason why I think this is a easy hike. The only thing easier than a fire road is a paved walk-way, am I right or am I right?!
- Another big reason this hike isn’t too hard on me: the elevation gain comes in short, small bursts, with a total elevation gain of only about 375 feet.
- With an out-and-back distance of approximately 5.7 miles, it’s enough distance and time to make for a good workout, without feeling like you’ve spent the entire day on the trail. Pizza after the hike? Um, yes. I’ve clearly earned it…
The views aren’t just at the end…
In the first ten minutes of the hike, you’re immediately greeted with beautiful views of the Santa Monica mountains. As you walk along, you can get glimpses of houses tucked away in the canyonside.
In addition to these mountain views, you’ll come across spots where you can look ahead towards the horizon. These moments are a promise of the ocean views that wait for you at the end of this hike.
When the fire road branches off into a separate trail, that’s when you know you’re getting close.
This is the point in the hike when I receive a second burst of energy, especially since you can see a small glimpse of the ocean. Almost there, almost there! Don’t give up now.
Aaah, we made it!
When you reach the end of the Parker Mesa Overlook hike, you can finally see those killer ocean views. There’s a small bench that’s perfect for resting while soaking up the sights, but if it’s taken, the ground is almost as good. (Hopefully you left your fancy pants at home.)
Once you’ve arrived, don’t forget to take plenty of photos and fuel up for the hike back to the trail entrance. I recommend bringing some supplies for a small picnic since this is such a picturesque spot to enjoy a meal.
So easy even an out-of-shape pale girl can do it…
There you have it! One of my favorite easy hikes in LA. I did it! I survived! And thanks to my giant hat and UV-resistant shirt, I didn’t come out looking like a lobster.
What is one of your favorite easy hikes? Let me know what I should try next in the comments below.
Looking for more Los Angeles travel ideas? Read more:
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- The 9 Best Weekend Trips from Los Angeles
- The 10 Kinds of People You’ll See on the LA Metro