Los Angeles Hikes

Hidden Gems of the Santa Ynez Canyon

Santa Ynez Canyon in Topanga State Park is a slot-shaped canyon with massive white walls and a more-or-less dormant waterfall. The hike to the canyon is beautiful and lush. When heading down to the canyon you can see all the way to Catalina Island on a clear day. Great to enjoy the immense views on the way to the canyon floor. After the ocean views, the hike enters a lush and green forest below, to enjoy a shaded hike with remnants of an old house and caves along the way to the canyon. Then finish the hike by climbing a rope through to the top of the Santa Ynez waterfall.

Hike Stats:

Time: 2.5 – 3 hours

Distance: 5.85 miles (out and back)

Elevation Change: 815ft

Difficulty: 6.5/10

Dog allowed?: No (Although sighted on this trail)

Parking and Trailhead Address:

To park in the state park is 10 dollars. Don’t worry there’s plenty of parking on the streets outside of the parking lot. You will see cars lined up on the dirt, before entering the park, this is the free parking.

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Parking outside of Park.

Exact free parking address is: 20942 Entrada Rd, Topanga

This is the GPS track for the hike:


The start of the hike begins fairly easy by following the park signs and passing through the gates of Topanga State Park until entering the parking lot. From here you will see the restrooms and take the fire road you see to the right of this building. It’s large fire road with plenty of room to hike. Continue on this fire road for approximately .2 miles until you reach a sign detailing different hikes and distances. Turn left as instructed by the sign.

Turn left and continue until the Santa Ynez Canyon Trail. You will duck under some trees, then the trail opens up for some views.


Shaded Canopy on the East Eagle Rock Fire Road Trail

At the 1 mile mark the trail to Santa Ynez Canyon comes into view. Take a right at this trail entrance and continue down to the canyon.

At this point the hike really opens up with some views to Catalina island on a clear day. Today was not one of those clear days. Still a great view though.


When you see this sign, continue left, if you continue right the trail leads to a dead end.

Upon passing the “14” sign the vegetation of the canyon really pops out and fills the trail.


Green of Spring.

From this point on you will notice that the hike is largely decline and easy-going. But remember this is the same way you take back, so it is much more difficult on the way back.


Views open up leaving the beginning underbrush.

The trail you are on quickly opens up to a view of the pacific ocean and lush hills. This part of the hike is very enjoyable due to the atmosphere it provides.


Continuing down to the canyon.

At this point in the journey is was slightly drizzling but picking up. The cool breeze made for a relaxing hike down to the valley.

Continue on to enter the canyon below.


Last bend into the canyon.

Entering the canyon is another experience, which brings an appreciation to recent LA rains. The rains have made this part especially lively with green ferns bringing a delight to the observer.


A dark and dank rainforest.

The canyon floor is exciting and lush, there are secrets here that can be found with a weary eye.


A hole where?

Continue on the trail, creepy drawings on the hike.


Creepy Tree is Creepy

Finally after hiking about 2.5 miles into the canyon you will see this sign that leads you another direction.


Turn left to find the waterfall.

As you walk along the trail to the waterfall, it aligns itself with the Santa Ynez Creek. If you keep your eyes vigilant you may see this gem, right after the sign. Cross the stream to get to this point.


Interesting colors and architecture.

Continue on the waterfall trail along the creek, maybe crossing it once or trice to find the trail.



Finally you will begin to see the entrance of the canyon’s white walls.


This part of the hike is a lot of hope, skipping and jumping from rock to rock while avoiding getting wet. Follow the canyon to the unfortunately dormant waterfall.
Although the waterfall is more-or-less dormant, you can climb to the top from a rope to get a great view of the canyon. This is a good turning back point although you can continue up and climb through the canyon walls. A very exciting hike, but would not recommend the last part for kids.

At this point you can make your way back.

A fun adventure that you probably never knew existed, go check it out when your schedule allows. Enjoy!

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