Trailhead Hunter: Temescal Canyon

Sunset Blvd Entrance to Temescal Gateway Park

The Sunset Boulevard Entrance to Temescal Gateway Park looking to the north.

The first stop on our quest to track down the best Metro accessible hiking trails takes us to Temescal Gateway Park.

Located along Sunset Blvd. in the Pacific Palisades, the entrance is accessible via Metro bus lines 2 and 302 and the Santa Monica Big Blue Bus Line 9.  If you’re traveling from the Eastside, the 2 and 302 to can be a bit of a slog, clocking in at over an hour from Union Station.  Accordingly, if you’re up for making a transfer, I might recommend taking the Big Blue Bus 10 Express, which travels from downtown L.A. to Santa Monica via the 10 freeway, and then connecting to BBB #9.Temescal Bus Signs

Regardless of your level of hiking gusto, Temescal has something for everyone: “easy to moderate” hiking trails, picnic areas, and grassy fields for your family soccer match.  As described by, a great resource for all hikes in the Santa Monica Mountains, the park encompasses 141 acres of seasonal streams, shaded canyon paths and scenic ridge-top views. And for the intrepid set, from Temescal Canyon you can access Topanga State Park and hundreds of miles of trails in the “Big Wild,” a 20,000-acre expanse of urban wilderness in the Santa Monica Mountains that stretches from Sepulveda Pass to Ventura County.

Starting from the park entrance, my trusted hiking companion and I made our way up into the canyon.  We proceeded under a rich tree canopy of sycamore, oaks, and fragrant eucalyptus, ambling along underbrush made green by this fall’s atypical rain showers. We picked up our trail after passing a series of low-slung bungalows, part of the park’s educational programming component.  (For a list of family oriented events, see below.)

If you’re heading up Temescal’s trails for the first time, a nice place to shoot for is the waterfall, and accompanying footbridge, about one mile up from the park entrance.  In the spring, the water is a great place to cool off your feet and search for tadpoles.  The rest of the year, it’s more of a trickle, but it provides a nice and shaded place to cool off nonetheless.

Before you head out, I should mention a few quick advisories.  Keep an eye out for poison oak and rattlesnakes.  Watching your step and staying on the designated paths should ensure that you avoid both, but either one can easily ruin your hike month.  Also, know that dogs are only allowed on leash in the lower part of the park, and not on the trails.

More Temescal visitor information is available here.  As always, it’s a good idea to bring plenty of water and sturdy pair of tennis shoes.  Bon voyage and stay tuned for upcoming Trailhead Hunters features.

Fall 2010 Events and Visitor Information [PDF]:

Sat. December 11, 11 am Gathering People & History in Temescal

Temescal Canyon has a long history as a gathering place for people to share traditional stories and new ideas.  Its unique history and natural beauty were instrumental in establishing the public park of today.  Join us for a journey into the past and a view into the future.  Meet at front parking lot.  2 hrs.

Tue. December 21, 7:30 pm Family Sing-a-long for the Holidays

Culture In the Canyon — Bundle up your winter spirit for our solstice celebration.  We will be enjoying an evening of holiday songs, stories and lots of goodies.   So pack up the kids, the visiting relatives from out of town, and your singing spirit.  We’ll have a roaring fire in the fireplace with hot cider and more, ready for your enjoyment.  Meet at Woodland Hall.  1.5 hrs

10 replies

  1. I’ve been taking buses and Metros to Griffith Park, Temescal, and Solstice.

    I started doing this in earnest with the Gulf oil spill.

    Keep the articles coming.

    Seniors like me who have time on their hands and like to hike can take advantage of great low fares between rush hours.

    Also, Temescal Canyon has a hike called the Rivas Canyon Trail that takes you to Will Rogers State Park where you can take a guided tour of Rogers’ home for free, watch his amazing rope tricks on film and then enjoy a picnic on his front lawn.

  2. Now that gas prices are going up again, I am going to start using the bus again when I go hiking. I have done Temescal and Solstice, as well as Will Rogers by bus. I would like to learn more about those trails starting near JPL and how to get there by public transport.

  3. What a fantastic feature!

    The 534 bus which runs from Washington/ Fairfax to Trancas Cyn and PCH passes
    amazing cyn trails and beaches between Santa Monica and the legnth of Malibu. Try Solstice Canyon.
    Afoot and Afield in Los Angeles County by Jerry Shad is a great resource. Also fantastic hiking at the edge of Angeles National forest such as Switzer Falls and Mildred Canyon are accessible from JPL and other trailheads in Pasadena/ Altadena served by Metro.

  4. Alice,

    Thanks for the compliments! I’ll definitely be writing more of these every week or so. Let me know if there are any trails in your neck of the woods you’d like me to investigate.


    Having had a month-long bout with poison oak myself, I can only hope that readers learn form my mistakes…

    Carter Rubin
    Contributing Writer, The Source

  5. I am glad you mentioned the poisen oak. I lived in the Palisades for 17 years and often hiked these trails. Poisen Oak is prevalent along the stream beds and damp areas alongside the trails. It is the prevalent ground cover in these areas.

  6. Thanks this is a great article – I have been searching for hiking destinations that I can take the bus to since recently going “carless” — & I can’t wait to read/learn about more hiking destinations accessible by bus!

    Thanks again, keep up the good writing =)