Topanga State Park (/tp/ (listen)) is a state park of California, United States. Located in the Santa Monica Mountains, it covers 3,936 acres (1,593ha) and has over 18 miles (29km) of trails for hiking, mountain biking, horses, and all-terrain vehicles. The park was established on July 10, 1949.
The park’s main entrance is located at 39350 Pacific Coast Highway, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272. There are additional entrances around the perimeter which allow access to horse riding stables, mountain bike trails, picnic areas, equestrian campsites, and other public lands within the park. The park offers opportunities for camping, picnicking, swimming, horseback riding, mountain biking, running, hiking, geocaching, and exploring by car or on foot. The park also features two historic movie ranches where movies such as Back to the Future Part III, I’ll Be Home For Christmas, Missile To the Moon, Westworld, Savages, and TV series like Lost in Space have been filmed.
The park contains many species of plants and animals including deer that roam throughout most of the park, black bears, raccoons, gray foxes, bobcats, mountain lions, and even occasional sightings of cougars. Some of these animals make their home in the forested areas of the park while others frequent the beach and coastal regions.
Occasionally, black and brown bats may be sighted. Osprey nests are often spotted along the coastline of the park. Mammals are protected within the park. No hunting is allowed. Canines are permitted when accompanied by leashed dogs. All other pets are prohibited. The park provides parking facilities for motorized watercraft up to 20 horsepower. Boats are available to rent all summer long. Waterfowl hunting is not permitted. Surf fishing is welcome but boating is required. Access to Lake Powell requires a permit issued by the National Park Service.
Camping overnight on boats is not permitted. Tent sites are available on a first come first served basis. Reservations are recommended during high visitation periods. The park has 81 drive-up tent sites and several walk-in sites. Modern restroom facilities with hot showers are provided near the main campground. Additional drive-up and walk-in campgrounds are accessible via Malakoff Diggins Road. This road connects to the coast highway (U.S. Route 101), allowing easy access to the park and surrounding area for those without a vehicle.
The park sells firewood, which must be purchased outside of the park. Wood is only sold whole rather than split. Prices vary depending upon the type of wood and its moisture content. Most of the trees are between 60 and 100 years old. They stand about 40 feet tall and wide. The tallest tree measured so far is 93 feet tall. Topanga State Park has 12 miles (19km) of equestrian trails open year round. Riders under 16 require a parent or guardian to sign release of liability forms. Horses are brought into the park through a separate entrance.
Parking fees are $8 per vehicle per day. Annual passes can be obtained at the park office. Horses are only ridden inside the park. Riddeno permits, valid for 7 days or 1 week, are available at the park office. Dogs are not permitted on riders’ sides because of the possibility of falling out of the saddle. Only unmounted riders are allowed beyond the boundaries of the park. Mountain bikes are only rideable single file and require special permission from the trail supervisor.
Beachgoers should be aware that there is significant amount of poison oak present. Also, the shoreline consists of sharp rocks and broken glass. Caution must be used at all times. Approximately one third of the park land is owned by the City of Los Angeles, another third is owned by the County of Los Angeles, and the remaining third is privately owned. Publicly owned parcels are managed by the Department of Parks and Recreation, a branch of the LA County Government. Private property is managed by the owner or his/her representative. The primary purpose of managing private land is to provide public access to open space recreation amenities. An important secondary consideration is to maintain the value of the land for future generations. Land management plans are continually updated to reflect changes in usage and availability of resources.
Facilities include modern restrooms, hot showers, laundry facilities, picnic tables, and a large grassy yard area. The park includes approximately 80 drive-up tent sites and several walk-in sites. Driveways are surfaced with gravel and accommodate a variety of vehicles. One half mile north of the park there is a group camp consisting of four hike-to cabins nestled among rolling hills covered with pine forests and dotted with lakes. Each cabin sleeps six people and has electric heat, air conditioning, refrigerator, stove, microwave oven, countertop, table, chairs, and bathroom facilities. Outside of each cabin is a small deck with furniture. Nearby is a horseshoe field, volleyball court, and playground.
In 1950, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors designated 160 acres from three different areas as a county park to be called “Topanga”. A year later, 120 more acres were added to create the present day park. On May 15, 1952, the area became a state park with an initial 2,400 acres. It was named after the district in Southern California.
Recreational opportunities offered include:
- boat launches
- bird watching
- horse back riding
- lake swimming
- mountain biking
- polo fields
- sail boarding
- wildlife viewing
- full facility camping
Other animals seen regularly include:
- sea lions
- harbor seals
- elephant seals
Birds found in this region include:
- bald eagles
- red-headed woodpeckers
- northern pygmy owls
Over 250 bird species can be observed here. Among them are:
- acorn woodpeckers
- boreal owls
- Cassin’s finches
- common poorwills
- downy woodpeckers
- hairy woodpeckers
- pileated woodpeckers
- red-bellied woodpeckers
- yellow-bellied marmots
- white-winged doves
- wild turkeys
- western mastiffs
Mammals commonly found in this region include: