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The Ultimate LA Family Guide ™
Red Rock Canyon Hike
Red Rock Canyon is a large hiking area in the Santa Monica Mountains.
One way to get to the trailhead is by taking Las Virgenes/Malibu Canyon Rd. and the other two ways involve Old Topanga Road Here is what we recommend: from Highway 101 exit Topanga Canyon Blvd. and go south on Topanga and enter Topanga Canyon. After taking Topanga Canyon Road for 7 miles towards the beach you will be making a right on Old Topanga Canyon Road. You will then go slightly less than 2 miles and then make a left at Red Rock Road.
When we first drove in we noticed that there are also "no parking" signs all over the path to the entrance of hiking area. While this does not exactly make you feel welcome, the purpose of your voyage is to have a great outdoor experience with your children.
If you keep driving down Red Rock Canyon Road it is very clear where to park, and you will also see the payment box for parking fees. Please come prepared for the $5 fee. There is no attendant just a box to leave it in.
As you enter the hike you will see that there are only portable bathrooms here. LAwithKids strongly recommends identifying bathrooms before these short hikes but trying to have the children go in a cleaner facility beforehand.
Immediately upon walking on the trail we noticed that this place is a fossil hunter's dream. Given that Topanga Canyon separates the coast from the Valley, this place has literally millions of rocks and fossils embedded into the mountains we walked by. Not being a scientist or knowing what to look for, we simply enjoyed what we saw, but I imagine that if you know what you were doing you could find some neat specimens. At LAwithKids we follow the guidelines of leaving a place the same as you arrived, so we were not about to take anything with us from the Santa Monica mountains.
Now, about the “red” rocks. Well there were no red rocks but rather the mountains have a red coloration to them. This hike was also full of caves which often required a little duck to get in.
One of the caves that Logan went into had a little campfire set up inside of it. I presume that campfires are illegal in this area, but the assemblage of sticks looked like something out of an old tale.
There were families, couples, solo people and even bicyclists doing the same trail. We did not do the entire route because I worried they would get tired. In the two seconds that Logan went a tiny bit off the trail he complained of getting a little boo boo from a stick that rubbed against him. He wanted to check out an old shed that looked abandoned, but the landscaping around it was heavily shrubbed. After Logan proceeded to get all the tiny thorns out of his socks, we decided to stay on the trail.
We soon spotted a western scrubjay and we took a picture of its cool blue color. There were also a lot of beautiful trees and plants along the way. One of our favorite experiences was trying to balance on a log toward the exit and also when we noticed an old area that appeared to be an amphitheater of the past along the trail. Who know what camp or organization once used this area for get-togethers or retreats?
In summary, we got in over a mile of hiking and wandering, saw a lot of caves, huge red boulders, and got my family even more into hiking and seeing nature.