Camping in the Santa Monicas – Topanga


Previously I’ve covered camping in La Jolla Valley, Sycamore Canyon, Circle X and Santa Cruz Island. I thought that La Jolla Valley was the only place in the Santa Monicas where you didn’t need a reservation to camp, with a first-come, first-served hike-in campground, but I was wrong!

Musch trail camp is another small hike-in campground like La Jolla’s, and it’s in the east end of the mountains at Topanga State Park. It’s about a mile from Trippet Ranch, the park entrance off Entrada Road, near Topanga Canyon Boulevard. Here’s a Google map showing the campground, trail and parking lot:

View Larger Map

The campground is fairly small, and looks like it would hold 6 to 8 tents maximum. There’s water available, and restrooms. You’re allowed to camp in a fenced-in area under some eucalyptus trees, and there are some picnic benches provided, as you can see in the photo above. It’s a fairly open spot next to the trail, without much of a view. It costs $3 a night, per person, and you can stay a maximum of 3 nights. You’re not allowed to smoke or have any fires except for propane stoves, for reasons that are obvious after the last few months.

There is no reservations system, and it doesn’t seem heavily used, but I would recommend phoning the park before-hand on 310 455 2465 to check on conditions. Talking to a ranger at Trippet Ranch when you get to the park so they know you’re there is a good idea too.

The campground is halfway along the Musch trail. The easiest way to get there is to start off at Trippet Ranch, and head along the northerly fire road from the parking lot. After a few hundred feet, the Musch trail branches off to the east. It’s well sign-posted, in pretty good shape and easy to follow. After roughly a mile, you’ll come across a small building and a paved road. The corral next to this is the camp site, and there’s an iron ranger where you can pay your fee.

If you’re ambitious, you could also get here along the Backbone trail from Will Rogers State Park, along the Rogers Road initial section, but that’s 9 mile hike. Milt McAuley’s Guide to the Backbone Trail is the best resource if you want more information on that alternative, since there’s a lot of junctions to navigate taking that route.

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