You don’t have to head to the Irish hills for that “fresh and clean as a whistle” feeling. Santa Ynez Canyon Trail in Topanga State Park
offers good greenery via a 2.5-mile (round-trip) hike along a cooling creekside trail that leads to a small waterfall. Crisscross a seasonal stream with the help of some easy rock-hopping and make your way through a verdant canopy of sycamores, oaks, and bays. When the creek becomes pinched by a narrow gorge, it’s time to literally walk upstream. (Fair-weather warning: after a big rain, the gorge can be hard to traverse.) Scramble over a 6-foot boulder to reach the trickling 18-foot waterfall bordered by maidenhair ferns. This little wilderness nook feels like your very own Irish spring.
Take PCH to Sunset Blvd. Drive half a mile inland and turn left up Palisades Dr. Go north for 2.4 miles and turn left on Vereda de la Montura. Park and find the Santa Ynez Canyon trailhead on the right at the bottom of the hill. Hike 0.6-mile up Santa Ynez Canyon Trail to a marked split. Turn right toward the waterfall, cross the creek, and turn left. The trail crisscrosses the small creek for the next half-mile to reach the gorge. Leave the trail and rock-hop up the creek to Santa Ynez Falls. There are patches of poison ivy along the trail, so long pants are recommended. No dogs.