Towering red rocks, along with floral clouds of white and blue-hued ceanothus are among the attractions of Red Rock Canyon Park near Topanga Canyon. The rocks are joined by colorful wildflowers in the spring, including cliff aster, clarkia, golden bush and many more blooms.
Check out red sandstone outcroppings reminiscent of the American Southwest and ascend Calabasas Peak (2,163 feet) for great clear-day views of the Santa Monica Mountains, San Fernando Valley and the San Gabriel Mountains. And/or hike to Red Rock Canyon Park, which offers drinking water and a small picnic area but is otherwise undeveloped.
From the Ventura Freeway (Highway 101) in Calabasas, exit on Las Virgenes Road and travel 3.25 miles south to Mulholland Highway. Turn left (east) and proceed four miles to Stunt Road, bear right and drive exactly a mile to the parking area on the right side of Stunt Road. The trailhead is on the left side of Stunt Road by road paddle “1.0.”
Ascend north on the Calabasas Peak Motorway Trail. Behind you is a view of Cold Creek Canyon, one of the treasures of the Santa Monica Mountains. Trail-side geology is fascinating: large, tilted slabs and fins of sandstone have been sculpted by erosion into weird shapes.
Bordering the fire road are chaparral-blanketed slopes dominated by toyon, laurel sumac, mountain mahogany and ceanothus. These larger shrubs are joined by a host of smaller ones including buckwheat, black sage, bush sunflowers and sagebrush.
About 0.7 mile from the trailhead is a saddle, where powerlines cross the road, sometimes known as Red Rock Saddle, and a junction.
(The left-forking road is a continuation of Calabasas Peak Motorway and leads another mile to the top of a ridge. A left-branching path leads directly to the peak.)
Rest a while at the bench at the saddle, then take the right fork and begin a 0.7-mile long descent to the bottom of Red Rock Canyon. The canyon narrows and appears more and more intriguing as you near the bottom.
At the 1.5-mile mark, signed Red Rock Canyon Trail offers an intriguing option. The north¬bound footpath crosses a trickle of a creek and climbs among the rock formations on the north wall of the canyon. Trail’s end is at an overlook.
The major trail continues along the canyon bottom another 0.5 mile to the heart of Red Rock Canyon Park. It’s worth extending your hike with a short stroll among the impressive red-rock formations stacked up along the dirt segment of this road that leads to the park entry road.
Interested in more hikes in the Santa Monica Mountains? Check out “Hike the Santa Monica Mountains Pocket Guide” at The Trailmaster Store.