Hike to L.A.'s Parker Mesa Overlook in Los Angeles

Parker Mesa Overlook is an amazing 7-mile hike through the Santa Monica mountains that rise high above the Pacific. After a hefty climb on a wide and trafficked trail, you’ll reach a lookout point with a few small benches that have sweeping views of Malibu, Pacific Palisades and Santa Monica. On a nice clear day, you can even see downtown from this mountaintop. This hike is just a short drive from the bustling city, but it’s amazingly tranquil. It’s a surprise to most people that Los Angeles has access to such vast wilderness.

If you’re looking for some good books for hiking or nature in Los Angeles, try Wild LA: Explore the Amazing Nature in and Around Los Angeles (Amazon) or Best Hikes Los Angeles: The Greatest Trails in the LA Mountains, Beaches, and Canyons (Amazon).

Hiking Info

  • Parker Mesa Overlook via Los Liones Trail

  • Trailhead location: Los Liones Drive Parking Lot

  • Out and back trail: 7.1 miles

  • Rated: Moderate-Hard

  • Elevation change: 1,643 ft

  • Bathrooms: Some at trailhead and one on the trail about a half mile before the lookout

Local Tip: If you want to make this hike a shorter 5.5 miles you can park at the Paseo Miramar Trailhead. The only problem is it’s much harder to park here because it’s in a residential neighborhood with strict restrictions on parking. If you choose this try to get to the trail early!

When To Go

The best time to do this hike would be October - June. The weather is pretty mild all year in L.A., but it can get pretty hot in the summer. If you decide to go in the summer choose early morning or late evening to avoid the midday heat and bring plenty of water.

The Hike

This hike begins with a steep climb uphill rising from a canyon up into the mountains from the parking lot.

Along the path you can see rocks cemented by sandstone in the mountainside.

As you climb higher, the Pacific Ocean comes into view. It’s behind you during most of the hike so you’ll get the best views on the way back down the trail.

Once you see the bathroom on the trail, keep left to get to the Parker Mesa Overlook. There are two benches at Parker Mesa that have sweeping views of Malibu, Pacific Palisades and Santa Monica on a clear day. Hopefully you’ll be so lucky. On occasion, there is a marine layer that blankets the valley in fog.

I recommend bringing sandwiches or even a little picnic up to the top so you can sit and enjoy this spectacular and unique view of Los Angeles.

This is an out and back trail, so you can head back down the same way you came up.

This is when you’ll get see city and ocean views the whole way back. I’ve done this trail at least 20 times with varying visibility, but on this specific day, you could see all the way to downtown Los Angeles which is about 10 miles inland.

Additional Tips

Rattle Snakes: It’s not likely you’ll see a rattlesnake, but they do exist in this region. If you do see one, avoid approaching it (obviously!) and move away from the area. Do not make any sudden or threatening movements. They generally strike if they feel they are in danger.

Have any other info or tips about this hike? Please leave them in the comments below.

Like this post? Pin it.


thredUP: Date Night


Life on Wheels Part 3: Rachel Farabaugh