I’d been to Temescal Gateway Park plenty of times before having kids. The draw for me then was a nice, short hike to a waterfall not far from the city.
Even after having kids, I still thought of Temescal as a nice place to go hiking. In fact, I took my oldest there a couple of years ago and thoroughly wore him out. After that, I figured the place didn’t have much to offer in the way of outdoor fun until the kids were a little older and more hiker-seasoned.
Boy, was I wrong.
Thank God a friend of mine invited me on a nature playdate at Temescal last month. She assured me there was plenty for the kids to do. I was still skeptical.
The minute we got there, I realized what I’d been missing. This place is a nature getaway right in the city. Within steps of busy Sunset Boulevard, you are transported into the forest — under cover of oaks and sycamores with mushrooms, pinecones, leaves and sticks covering the ground.
WHY IT’S GREAT FOR NATURE LOVERS
Temescal Gateway Park is one of the most popular parks in the Santa Monica Mountains and includes some 140 acres of oak and sycamore canyons, a waterfall, amazing views of the ocean and city, plus access to miles of trails in both Topanga State Park and Will Rogers State Historic Park.
While it’s true that there’s a nice, relatively short (and quite popular) hike to a waterfall with great views, that’s not really the reason to go. It’s all the cool scenery along the way. On our playdate, we enjoyed a leisurely stroll that meandered whichever way the kids wanted to go.
The kids played streamside searching for rocks, then tossed them in the creek.
Then we were off to an area that features a wooden platform around a tree, where we stopped for a snack, then watched the kids hop on fallen trees.
From there, we followed the path until it opened into a large grassy area that’s too gorgeous for words (or for my photo-taking skills!). The kids ran in leaves,
played with sticks,
put on a play for us and eventually settled in for lunch. I could have stayed there all day. No one was happy to leave.
The best thing about having nature so close is that you can visit often to see how things are affected by the weather and seasons. There has been much rain in Los Angeles since our January playdate and on a recent (and solo) visit to Temescal, I discovered the effect: lots more water and a whole new world of wildlife!
- Self-pay parking costs $7; limited, free parking is available on Sunset Blvd. and Temescal Canyon Road
- Park amenities include hiking trails, picnic tables and grassy areas
- Restrooms and a camp store are located near the parking lot
- Wear comfortable walking shoes
- Bring along plenty of water, snacks and sunscreen
WHAT WE LIKED
- Collecting rocks and throwing them in the creek
- Climbing on fallen trees
- Making piles of sticks
- Searching for acorns
- Hopping on and off nearby hiking trails
GOOD TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
- Best temperatures are to be had in the morning hours
- If you plan to hike the Waterfall Trail, be prepared for some steep portions and expect to get seriously dirty (but hey, that’s really what it’s all about, right?!)
- Keep an eye out for poison oak
- Gets very hot (and crowded) in the summer
MY TIPS FOR A GREAT VISIT
- Go during winter or spring before it gets too hot — or too crowded with summer visitors
- Wear tennis shoes so little feet are ready for hiking, tree climbing and whatever other fun might be had
- Bring snacks, water and sunscreen. All three are essentials no matter what time of year you visit
- Pack a picnic; this place is too beautiful not to stop, listen and enjoy
Temescal Gateway Park is located at:
15601 Sunset Blvd.
Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
Directions to Temescal Gateway Park