Friday, March 6, 2020

Parker Mesa Overlook, Pacific Palisades, California 2/16/20

Parker Mesa Overlook/Metal Cross via El Ocaso (Rabbit Hole), Paseo Miramar and Los Leones Canyon Trails

Distance:  5.6 miles (RT)

Elevation gain: 1,474'

Directions: Trail head is located at 510 Los Liones Drive, Pacific Palisades, CA.  There are several small parking areas that fill up fast. Cars can also park on the street (parking is free and there are restrooms).  

This loop is very popular with area residents. Finding a trail map that includes the route from the Iron Cross to Parker Mesa Outlook can be a challenge. I recommend installing the app on your phone and using the route entitled: Parker Mesa Overlook Trail to East Topanga Fire Road (just the loop portion, omitting the out and back). It helped us find the way given the many offshoot “trail-lets” encountered during the ascent.  

Go through the gate and take a left, by the drainage.

Hiked with Rich. We got to the trailhead early and already the parking lots were full.  Eager for a new adventure, we charged through the gate and up the main trail with total abandon. Big mistake! 

If we’d continued up this trail we would've done the loop counter-clockwise going DOWN the rabbit hole instead of up, not advisable due to the steep and gravelly terrain. We retraced our steps back to the cement drainage ditch (adjacent to the gate), crossed it and followed a small trail up through the trees. 

Cross the drainage. 

The unmarked path begins in the open (avoid the trail offshoots) before it turns left towards a shady area. 
Into the trees.

Here the trail goes straight up. We hung on to roots and after a few short steeps, popped back out into the sunshine.   

We enjoyed a beautiful view of the hills and ocean, walking in and out of flowering bushes. In the distance we saw the Metal Cross and headed for it. 

Metal Cross ahead.

I couldn't find much information on the Metal Cross; to me it looked like a makeshift power pole with a junction box.  Whatever it's intended purpose, now it's a waypoint and for some a shrine by the looks of the small offerings in the open box.

This area has many offshoot trail-lets. After several tries we found the main trail, referencing the Alltrails route on my phone. It’s not wholly apparent that’s the way but if you continue your walk past the cross (with the cross on your right), you should be on the correct path. 

The trail bears right and then left; with many trail offshoots which can be confusing. The day was warm and dry and we sucked down lots of water.  There's much sun and view on this route, with the occasional shady tree-lined grassy area.

Trail's out in the sun.

Trail's in the trees.

We continued up the rolling hills, eyeballing the next challenge and when we got there found it tougher than expected. Yes, very steep (not quite "scramble" steep), but the loose dirt and gravel and lack of things to grab on tested our balance and muscle tone!

There are more steeps like this one and we became accustomed to picking our way up them.  I see why going down this route is not recommended, particularly in wet conditions. 

Further up we could see people standing on the Parker Mesa Overlook.

About a dozen people were at the Overlook when we arrived; they'd walked up from Paseo Miramar, Los Leones, or Trippet Ranch. We did see a few venturing down the Rabbit Hole on their way back.

People come for the views!

After some lunch and a few photos, we headed down the Paseo Miramar trail toward the Los Leones trail. 

Paseo Miramar trail is basically a road the leads to the junction of the Los Leones trail - not a lot of character but the views make up for it!

Headed down the trail.

Gotta love that there's a bathroom on the road - and trash can!

Los Angeles in the distance.

An exciting find: a Western Diamondback!

By now hoards of people are heading up to the Overlook.  Eventually we got to the junction of the Los Leones trail and went right (if you went left you would continue down the Paseo Miramar trail).

The Los Leones trail's a bit quieter and more trail-like.  We were down and in our car in no time.

Head on this path.

Sweet, sunny path.

What a fun hike!  We knew this was a popular path and being the weekend, there were crowds. The trip up the El Ocaso/Rabbit Hole trail allowed for a bit of solitude. Highly recommend!

Our route.