Join experienced Topanga Canyon Docents, for free, guided nature walks in Topanga State Park every Sunday and second Saturday through June 30. The park is considered the largest wildland park in the world that lies within an urban border (the City of Los Angeles). Its 25-square-mile spread provides a unique wilderness experience close to home.
Most walks are family oriented and this year’s spring walks will be full of blooms. Volunteer docents are trained to provide information about flora and fauna, geology, and history, and explain why urban wildland parks need to remain wild. These are easy-to-moderate hikes requiring only good shoes, your questions, and a nature-loving spirit.
On Saturday, March 9, walk with Kelli Frye, who also speaks about indigenous ways and how native Americans utilized plants and animals.
Bring your questions about wildflowers on April 13 with botanist Doug Allan. Walk and discover birds, snakes, and insects along the way. Many docents will enlighten us about the indigenous cultures that existed here for more than 9,000 years. Friendly, trained volunteers also host the visitor center inside our beautiful park.
All walks begin at 10 a.m. and last until noon. Meet in the parking lot at Trippet Ranch, which has a fee to park, or buy an annual pass from California State Parks (parks.ca.gov) to get in “free” year-round. Restrooms with running water are next to the parking lot and picnic tables are under the oaks. Come early, bring lunch, bring your family and friends, explore the Visitor Center to read about park history and view historical photos. For the hikes, wear long pants and sensible shoes.
Sunday, March 10, is the first of four Sunday walks this month (also March 17, 24 and 31), led by docents who know the trails. There are several trails, and each has different features: The Nature Trail, Musch Trail, Santa Ynez Trail, and Dead Horse Trail.
Saturday, April 13, a special walk with botanist Doug Allan will explore the explosion of wildflowers.
Sunday, April 7, 14, 21, and 28, and May 5, 12, 19 and 26.
Saturday, May 4, Gale Feldman explores Fairies of the Chaparral. Her popular walks focus on children ages 4-10.
Saturday, May 12, Peter Rice, master interpreter of Indigenous ways, will take you on a Special Mother’s Day Walk. Peter helps train new docents and it is a treat to interact with him.
About Topanga Canyon Docents. Every year the TCD trains new docents between September and November. This highly regarded training takes place on alternate weekends with lectures on Saturdays and interpretive training on Sundays.
Volunteers staff the Visitor Center, lead School Walks for children, lead Weekend Walks for the public, and meet and greet visitors on the hiking trails in the park as Trail Ambassadors. They also organize and facilitate enrichment activities for its members such as a Field Ecology Weekend, Docent Training, Full Moon Hikes, and Field Trips. Its mission is to share their knowledge of the flora and fauna, exploring the trails, and sharing the history at the Visitors’ Center.
By Megan Williams