Not all dead ends lead to nowhere. Some are entranceways to landscapes that are seemingly from another planet. Take the high-winding and narrow dirt road that dead-ends at Red Rock Canyon Park
in the Santa Monica Mountains. Up here lies a reclusive community of fiery sandstone formations resembling the hoodoos of the Southwest. They’re your company for a thrilling 2-mile (round-trip) hike to the heart of the park, Red Rock Overlook. Start on the only trail leaving the parking lot, a wide fire road called the Red Rock Mountainway. About a quarter of a mile up this path, a series of small caves in the canyon’s rock wall offer a chance for some novice spelunking. Just a short distance from there, a right turn starts the singletrack to Red Rock Overlook. This section offers ample opportunities to boulder over gnarled sandstone spires rising above trailside sagebrush. Views of Calabasas and Topanga expand rapidly with each step. At the overlook, scramble up the rocks to take in the 360-degree view over the canyon: Calabasas Peak and Topanga Peak rise to the west and south, producing fingers of sandstone ribboned in red and mocha. Feast on the views!
Take US 101 to the Valley Circle Blvd/Mulholland. exit in Calabasas. Head south on Mulholland Dr. for half a mile. Turn right on Valmar Rd., which becomes Old Topanga Canyon Rd. When the road comes to a T, turn right onto Mulholland Hwy. Rd. After a short distance, turn left to return to Old Topanga Canyon Rd. Stay on this weaving road for 3.8 miles, and turn right on to Red Rock Canyon Rd. Follow this unpaved road into the park and begin hiking up Red Rock Mountainway. After 1/3 of a mile (and just before the road begins to turn uphill), make a right onto the path to Red Rock Overlook, reaching the sandstone crest overlooking Red Rock Canyon after less than a mile. There is a $5 day use fee to park at the trailhead. Dog-friendly!