Topanga State Park
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Topanga State Park is a California state park located in Los Angeles County. It is located adjacent to the unincorporated community of Topanga, California, within the city of Los Angeles, California. Covering 11,000 acres (45 km²) with thirty six miles of trails. The park’s boundaries stretch from Topanga Canyon to the Pacific Palisades to Rustic Canyon. There are more than 60 entrances. Topanga State Park is considered not only the largest park in the Santa Monica Mountains, but also, is considered to be the largest park located in the limits of a city.
The word Topanga itself comes from the Shoshonean people, who lived in the area for thousands of years until the establishment of San Fernando Mission by the Spanish. Tribes like the Tongva and Chumash also inhabited this land.
History of Topanga Park Area 
The land of Topanga Canyon was originally inhabited by Native American groups collectively referred to as the Topanga Culture, including the Chumash and Tongva. Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo initially claimed the land of California for Spain in 1542, but the land of Topanga was generally ignored until the establishment of the Pueblo and Mission, and system by the Spanish in an effort to combat claims of foreign colonization. When Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1821 control of Nueva California was transferred to the newly formed government. In 1828 the Mexican Governor of Alta California granted Francisco Sepulveda provisional title to the more than 30,000 acres called Rancho San Vicente y Santa Monica. The rancho included the eastern portion of the City of Santa Monica, Santa Monica Canyon and the mountains to the ridgeline on the west bank of Topanga Creek. The land remained relatively unused, except for flat portions which were used for crop grazing, but the mountainous regions were deemed unusable, even for sheep or cattle.
California became part of the United States in 1848, and eventually ownership of the Rancho San Vicente y Santa Monica grant was confirmed by a US Land Claims Commission. The land, previously considered useless as crop or range land by the Spanish and Mexican governments, was made available to homesteaders under the Homestead Act. Among the many homestead acts filed in the Santa Monica Mountains was one filed by a beekeeper named McAtee. McAtee claimed the western edge of the Rancho San Vicente y Santa Monica, and area along what became Entrada Road, the current entrance to Topanga State Park.
In the 1920s, the canyon became a popular weekend get-away destination for residents of growing Los Angeles. Summer cabins were built along Topanga Creek and throughout the area in subdivisions in the surrounding hills. In this same trend, in 1917, Oscar A. Trippet, Sr. bought half of the McAtee homestead, which he and his family used as a get-away from the city. When Trippet died in 1923, his son, Oscar Jr., commissioned Los Angeles architect Summer Spaulding to build the superintendent's house, horse stables, and a skeet lodge. A stock pond was also built which is still located inside the park at the northeast corner of the parking lot. The Trippet family owned of the land until 1963 when the land was sold to a developer.
The next year, 1964, a park bond was approved by voters to purchase Trippet Ranch and some adjoined land. Topanga State Park was opened to the public in 1974, its land includes more than 7,500 acres from the Rancho San Vicente y Santa Monica Spanish land grant. Additional acreage has been added in the form of 1,500 acres from the Palisades Highlands and another 1,600 acres added recently, 2002, near the mouth of the Topanga Creek.
The main type of vegetation that a visitor will find in the park is chaparral. In Trippet Ranch there is a significant area of California Oak woodland. The vast chaparral is accompanied by coastal sage scrub, bay laurel woodland, walnut woodland and grassland savannah. Depending on one’s location, the hiker will come across various types of plants due to the climate change from the different borders of the park. There are over eighty mammal species and more than sixty reptiles and amphibians. Being in Southern California, hikers need to be aware of all types of snakes, especially rattle snakes. Topanga State Park is home to many species of birds. Here is a list of birds of California.
Many trails exist within the park, which are accessible to hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders as posted. If one is interested in geology, the state park has many interesting things to offer like exposed earthquake faults, volcanic intrusions, marine fossils and many sedimentary rock formations. The best place to begin an adventure at this park is Trippet Ranch. Most trails are wide fire roads providing paths for hiking and mountain biking. Notable points of interest in the park are; Eagle Rock, Eagle Spring Trail, Musch Trail, and Hub Junction. Unpaved portions of Mulholland Drive are accessible through the Temescal Fire Rd. Three historical attractions of the park are Trippet Ranch, Will Roger’s cabin and the Josepho Barn.
The Backbone Trail System, a multi-use long-distance trail spanning nearly 70 miles across the Santa Monica Mountains, passes through Topanga State Park. It can be accessed via the Trippet Ranch trailhead.
The Santa Inez Trail is accessible through the park as well. It is best to park at Trippet Ranch and walk east to the Topanga Fire Road. Then, the hiker should travel north and he will come to the Santa Inez Trail. This trail has a very unique geology. Hikers will come across sandstone formations that will crumble at his fingertips.
Topanga Nature Center 
The Topanga Nature Center houses a collection of mounted native animals and birds, as well as hands-on displays of natural artifacts. It is dedicated to the flora, fauna and geography of the area. The Center is located in the lodge used by Trippet Ranch for skeet shooting.
Proposed for closure 
Topanga State Park was one of the 48 California state parks proposed for closure in January 2008 by California's Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger as part of a deficit reduction program. It is still currently open. In protest, local residents and eviromentalist collected more than 17,000 signatures. A group of sixth-graders delivered the petition to the state governor. This bold action saved the park and it is still open today.
Improvement Plan 
In August 2012, Congressman Brad Sherman of Sherman Oaks, California announced that he secured funds to help improve parks and public areas. His first project is to help restore sections of the 65 mile Backbone Trail. This trail is one of the most popular trails in the park. Congressman said, “The Backbone Trail provides thousands of hikers, bicyclists and other outdoor enthusiasts with an unparalleled recreational experience through the heart of the Santa Monica Mountains. These improvements will enhance that experience and improve safety for everyone that uses this popular trail.” The money is going to go to clearing back brush on the trails, fixing and preventing landslides along the trail, and repairing the Chicken Bridge in the park. Hikers have already reported significant improvements to the trails and the project will be completed by 2013.
- "Topanga State Park General Plan". California Department of Parks and Recreation. Retrieved 6 December 2012.
- "Topanga State Park-Los Angeles-A Wildland Adventure in the Heart of the City". Retrieved 6 December 2012.
- "Topanga Parkland History". Topanga Canyon Docents. Retrieved 10 December 2012.
- McKinney, John (2000). Day Hiker's Guide to California State Parks. Olympus. pp. 55–56.
- "Topanga SP". Department of Parks and Recreaion. Retrieved 6 December 2012.
- Sherman, Brad (15 August 2012). "Congress Sherman Highlights Improvements to the Backbone Trail int he Santa Monica Mountains". FDCH Press Releases. Retrieved 6 December 2012.
- Topanga State Park (California State Parks)
- Topanga Canyon Docents - includes information about the nature center