Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My: Hike to the Topanga Lookout



I met my friend Jen two years ago, just before I began my personal renaissance.  We do everything together, including showing up to work in the same outfit.  We bring each other leftovers for lunch and share a passion for hot sauce.  She has even tried to pick up guys for me in the supermarket, while I stand aside, camouflaging my face with the tomatoes in the produce section.   I already found her an exceptional boyfriend.  Even his mom follows my blog.  (Hi, Tina!)

In addition to being the most patient listener ever, I feel like Jen supports me no matter what.  Looking back, I think she might be some kind of angel, sent to me when I needed one the most.

Even though we do everything else together, I haven’t had the honor of taking Jen on a Shoestring Adventure until now.  For her first adventure, we decided  to check out a local hike to a former fire lookout in Topanga Canyon.  Believe it or not, we showed up in matching outfits.  This was not planned.

Greetings from the Topanga Lookout

The hike to the graffiti-covered lookout was only a mile, but the view seemed to go on for infinity times a hundred.  We had a breathtaking, clear view from the Santa Monica Mountains to the Santa Susana Mountains.  My brother joined us at the lookout and met Jen for the very first time.

Matching outfits by accident!
Matching outfits by accident!

I met my brother around the same time as Jen.  He’s more of an honorary brother than my actual brother, but close friends might as well be family.  You may recognize him as the pirate from the sea caves adventure.  Two years ago, when I was just beginning this journey, he gave me the name “Grasshopper.”  Luck was on my side, but I had much to learn.  When I found my wings, I became “Butterfly.”  Now that I have discovered my own special powers, I have graduated to “Tiger” (pronounced like ti-gah).  I’m not sure what comes next, but I hope one day to find out.


At the lookout, we spent some time choreographing ninja fight sequences.  Jen earned the nickname “Little Bear” for her tracking skills as we examined the footprints of a mountain lion stalking a deer.  That’s right.  Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

"Little Bear"
“Little Bear”

The trail led us around the remains of a large tower on the summit next to the lookout.  During the Cold War, many summits around Los Angeles were used as Nike missile defense sites to detect and intersect Russian missiles and aircraft directed at the city (Source:  We may have unknowingly stumbled upon a dark piece of our city’s history.  Even though the area is fenced off, every inch of the tower and the building next to it is covered in graffiti.  Enter at your own risk.

The Tower

The adventure didn’t end when we got back to the car.  We enjoyed beautiful ocean views all the way down the mountain.  Before heading home, we drove a little further down PCH to grab some fried shrimp and a cold brewski at Neptune’s Net.

Two of my best friends finally meet.
Two of my best friends finally meet.

Two things I know for sure.  Little Bear has a natural instinct for adventure, and I can’t wait for her to join me on the next one.  She is my guardian angel, after all.

Topanga Lookout Trail

  • Trailhead Parking:  Free
  • Road Trip: 50 minutes from downtown Los Angeles
  • Trail Distance: 2-mi round trip; 160 feet elevation gain
  • Fitness Level: Easy, good for families and first dates
  • What to Bring: Bring lots of water, especially if the weather is hot; no shade on the trail.
  • Source: Go to for trail directions.

 Get Directiions

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2 replies on “Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My: Hike to the Topanga Lookout”
    1. says: Alyx

      I bet you’ve had some pretty good adventures too 🙂 Thank you so much for reading and commenting, Tina!

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