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Park-Hopping in the Palisades: Hiking From the Temescal Gateway to Will Rogers State Historic Park

Photo by David Lockeretz of Nobody Hikes in L.A.
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By David Lockeretz of Nobody Hikes in L.A. / Special to LAist

You already know about how you can park-hop from Santiago Oaks Regional Park to Irvine Regional Park in Orange County, but a similar 2-for-1 deal exists in Pacific Palisades. It comes courtesy of the Rivas Canyon Trail, a 2-mile route that connects two of the most popular L.A. hiking destinations: Temescal Gateway Park and Will Rogers State Historic Park.

Temescal Gateway Park is known as an access point to Topanga State Park, as well as for its small seasonal waterfall and the geological landmark called Skull Rock. To get to the Rivas Canyon Trail, however, walk up the paved road to the right (most of the other trails will be on the left) and look for a small sign indicating the trailhead, and 2.1 miles to Will Rogers State Historic Park. The trail climbs quickly, gaining 500 feet in less than a mile. As you ascend, you are rewarded for your efforts with great views of the ocean and Temescal Canyon. There are a few false trails that branch off, but overall the route is pretty clear.

After gaining the ridge between Temescal and Rivas Canyons, the trail descends into a quiet, green woodland. It’s hard to believe that you’re only a short distance from Pacific Coast Highway and Sunset Blvd. At the bottom of the hill, head right at the split and continue down the canyon. You are shaded by eucalyptus and sycamore trees, and although you pass by some houses, the signs of civilization are few. The only drag here is that you have to watch out for poison oak.

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Two miles from the beginning of the hike, you cross the end of Rivas Canyon Road, a private residential street. You can turn around here, walk down to Sunset Blvd. and follow it back to the park, or continue on to Will Rogers State Historic Park. The trail continues, climbing uphill before meeting the park boundary. A big green field makes a nice place to sit and have a snack before turning around, but if you’ve got more time and energy, there’s plenty to see here. In addition to the polo field and the house that was once the famous actor’s residence, Will Rogers Park also boasts Inspiration Point, a popular destination for hikers. It’s also the eastern end of the 70-mile Backbone Trail.

To get to Temescal Gateway Park, take the 10 to Pacific Coast Highway. Go three miles and turn right on Temescal Canyon Road. Go a mile, cross Sunset Blvd. and enter the park. The fee is $7 per vehicle, although you may be able to find free parking on Sunset Boulevard.

For more information about Temescal Gateway Park, visit the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy Website. For more information about Will Rogers State Historic Park, visit its website.

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