Upper Rustic Garapito Loop Trail

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Topanga State Park

Upper Rustic Garapito Loop Trail is a 7.2 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Los Angeles, California that features a river and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.

Distance: 7.2 miles Elevation Gain: 1,348 feet Route Type: Loop


nature trips


bird watching




wild flowers



no dogs

An adventurous loop hike on poorly marked trails through one of the most rugged areas of the Santa Monica Mountains. The hike starts out south along a densely wooded creek running into Rustic Canyon, that is quite lovely after recent rains. A side trip will take you to the blue gorge, a 6 foot wide, 20 foot high slot cut into the granite by the stream. Our loop then heads west along Bay Tree trail, named after a Bay tree with a small spring bubbling out of its roots. As the trail begins to move northwest, stop and have lunch at Cathedral Rock, near the junction of the Backbone and Temescal trails. A fun spot to climb on the rocks. The trail then double backs northeast along the Garaptio trail back to the car, with lovely mountain views along the way. Take a compass, a good map, and the directions from the guide book referenced for this hike. It's a full day outing, so bring water and food. Thanks to Eric Altizer for showing me this great hike!

I chose this trail since it’s only a 15 min commute from doorstep to parking lot for me. On that note, there was a ton of parking. Several trails I have done, I’m parking my car on shady side streets before a mini hike just to the trail. I got here at 10am and there was plenty of free parking. There is a lot you can pay a little closer to the starting point but it saves you maybe .25 miles or less. As you begin the trail, you come to the junction of your first loop. I chose to go left which had nice scenic views of downtown and was a bit downhill. At the junction of the second loop, I also stayed left which ascended up the side of the mountain through off and on foliage which offered great views of topanga state park. Eventually you get to hub junction and instead of looping back, I stayed straight toward Temescal point. Not far from hub junction is a little path on your left to get up to cathedral rock which is a nice spot to rest and get great views of the area. About 2 miles from cathedral rock is a fork in the road to stay straight, go slight right down into topanga park or go right onto this short random trail that dead ends but offers a gorgeous view of topanga state park from 2000 ft and creates a perfect selfie moment! After that I went back to hub junction before beginning to loop back around. At hub junction I stayed left since this would take you on the part of the loop you haven’t completed from what I mentioned earlier. This starts taking you to eagle rock but eventually you make a sharp right onto garapito canyon trail. Please NOTE, it is this trail ONLY that things are overgrown. If you just stop here and double back, you will avoid absolutely any and all overgrown areas. If you go through, it can be grueling at times as you are ducking under branches and jumping through thick brush. At some point things are overgrown in a way that if you try and go around it, you become dangerously close to the edge of the already narrow trail. There is a creek midway to rest and a few spots for photos that offered a great lord of the rings vibe. Once you get to the end of garapito canyon trail and reach the junction to loop back to the parking lot, there is no more overgrowth. I did this trail on 5/23/2020 so it’s as up to date as it can be. I hope this review helps! ***Looking for hiking buddies if interested***

over grown
7 days ago

Echo previous reviews about it being overgrown (ridge trail only), and this keeps progress slow and other people away. So, pretty peaceful if you wear long pants and decent terrain shoes/boots.

Since they just reopened the trails today it looks almost untouched.

Slightly overgrown at parts, but easy to get through. The tree covered trail was perfect after the open sun-covered fire roads.

8 months ago

cool trail first part was a little over grown and hella spider webs. felt like Spiderman was jizzing all over your face for the first half going counter clock wise. I advise the "blind man stick wave" method. it's still working since day one . other than that smooth sailing.

over grown
8 months ago

The garapito portion of Temescal is overgrown in parts but you are pretty much under the tree canopy for a long while so that’s a plus

over grown
9 months ago

Far more bikers than hikers. Easy climbs and descents, no shade on the wide roads and the garapito creek trail was very narrow and overgrown in comparison. No stellar views but overall a pleasing walk.

over grown
11 months ago

Extremely overgrown. If it is raining or has recently rained, avoid this one. Won’t go back to hike but it seems like a decent MTB area.

Sun Jan 20 2019

Did this for my birthday hike. Because there are so many different trails we got off the All Trails map twice and it ended up being 10.5 miles! But it was a beautiful hike especially the second half. We did it clockwise which I believe is the easier way. Everyone along the way, hikers and bikers, were friendly and helpful.

Sun Nov 04 2018

I hiked what I think is this trail today, although I am having trouble reconciling the map with the description. I hiked clockwise from Mulholland to Bent Arrow to Temescal Canyon to Garapito Canyon. Bent Arrow does not follow a densely wooded creek, so there may be another trail. I did see one on the map called Bay Tree trail; however, it must be farther east on Mulholland. However, when I used GPS and compared where I was with the map, it showed where I was supposed to be. It also comes out right at Garapito. Anyway, I really enjoyed the hike. Garapito Canyon is very pretty, and would probably be quite lovely in the Spring. I think hiking this loop counterclockwise might be harder than hiking it clockwise. Otherwise it is not hard at all, if you hike at all.

Sun Jul 29 2018

We took the trail from the north entrance of TCyn (Braude Park), and didn’t how long it was. There was so much mist that we couldn’t see 20 feet in front of us. We finally reached a place to get out of the trail and thanks to a nearby sign .08 mile to hub, we were able to find our way out of the park. Lovely, but long hike. Brings lots of water, hat, and snacks.

Thu Jan 11 2018

Nice moderate hiking terrain. mostly not shaded so bring extra water and hike during colder months. No dogs allowed on the trail.

Mon Oct 16 2017

Very nice loop, a good workout. Some shade on the west side of loop. Lots of bikes in the beginning.

Mon May 29 2017

Parking was easy. Not much shade. Lots of overgrown plants on part of trail so wear long pants

Thu Apr 27 2017

I really liked this hike. Not much traffic at all once you get into it a bit. Only challenging at small parts. Great scenery to look at of the valley and the canyon. I took the junction up Eagle Rock and sat up there for a bit. Pretty peaceful. I definitely recommend it.

Thu Mar 23 2017

Excellent route for the whole family to enjoy, varying length and beautiful scenery.

Tue Mar 14 2017

I love this trail. You can walk it, run it or bike it. Great views and many different trail options to connect you to different areas.

Tue Feb 14 2017

The beautiful views all around make this trail really worthwhile.

Tue Jan 31 2017

Very nice relaxing hike. Took the fire road up to where you can see the ocean and downtown LA in one panoramic shot.

Thu Nov 17 2016

Nice trail. I did it counterclockwise. The hardest part of the trail is in the canyon but even that isn't bad. Lots of shade but much of the fire road areas are full sun. Not a lot of traffic at all. Take some time and check out eagle rock and cathedral rocks. They are not on the trail but very close.

Fri Nov 04 2016

Nice hike! Great workout!

Fri Jun 17 2016

good trip with kids.

Thu Jan 16 2014

Is this trail good with strollers? I want to go for a hike with my baby...

Mon May 02 2011

The Garpito Trail is definitely challenging hike. I takes you through the heart to the bushy canyon on a forestry trail that can be very unfriendly to tall people. Eventually there is a very noticeable rock under a shady tree beside a stream, This is a great place to rest. The trail takes you all the way to Cheney road and eagle rock.

2 days ago

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