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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Garner

My Stargazing Trip to Topanga State Park Was Just What You Needed

Updated: Nov 12, 2023


If you're a fan of the night sky, then you need to add a stargazing trip to Topanga State Park in Malibu, California to your bucket list! With its stunningly clear skies and miles of hiking trails, Topanga is the perfect place for an unforgettable night-hike under the stars.


I recently visited Topanga to watch the Perseids meteor shower, and it was an experience that I'll never forget. This is a collection of my notes, tips, and things I learned along the way. It is a pleasure to share with you with love and enthusiasm!



The Way To Topanga State Park Was Just What You Needed


The Perseids Meteor Shower In Topanga State Park

The Perseids meteor shower occurs annually between July 17th and August 24th. It's a particularly spectacular meteor shower because it produces up to 60 meteors per hour at its peak.

This year’s peak was expected to be on August 12th, so I headed out to Topanga early that morning with my friends. We choose a spot far away from city lights because we knew we would be able to see as many stars as possible there. As soon as the night sky turned completely black, the experience began! Having the chance to experience this was a memorable evening, I am so glad that I had the chance to experience it.


Topanga State Park Information

Is Topanga State Park Worth Visiting?

Absolutely, Topanga State Park is well worth a visit, particularly if you're a fan of the great outdoors, hiking, or simply want to experience some of California's beautiful and diverse landscapes. Here are a few reasons why Topanga State Park is a must-see:

  1. Hiking Trails: The park features over 36 miles of trails, fire roads and horse trails. Each trail offers unique scenery ranging from breathtaking panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean to beautiful displays of native wildflowers in the spring.

  2. Wildlife Viewing: The park is home to various wildlife species, including deer, coyotes, and numerous bird species. For nature enthusiasts, it offers a fantastic opportunity to observe wildlife in their natural habitat.

  3. Outdoor Activities: Besides hiking and wildlife viewing, Topanga State Park also provides ample opportunities for mountain biking, horseback riding, and picnicking.

  4. Beautiful Scenery: The park is located within the cliffs and canyons of the Santa Monica Mountains and offers spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean, making it a photographer's dream.

  5. Proximity to Los Angeles: Despite being a world away from the hustle and bustle of the city, the park is only a short drive from downtown Los Angeles, making it a perfect escape from city life.

  6. Cultural History: The area has a rich cultural history and is home to landmarks like the Eagle Rock, a popular spot among the Native American tribes who once lived in the area.

  7. Eco-Friendliness: The park is a great place to connect with nature and learn about local ecosystems and the importance of conservation.


A Night Under the Stars - Our Route to Watch The Sky

We hiked up one of the park’s trails until we found a clearing with an unobstructed view of the night sky above us. Even though it was still light out when we arrived, after just a few minutes of staring into space, we could already make out some shooting stars. As darkness settled around us and the stars began twinkling even brighter, more and more meteors began streaking across the night sky until eventually it seemed like every time we looked up there was something new to see.

We stayed in our spot for hours watching every part of the sky until finally our eyes couldn't take any more starlight!

The Perfect Stargazing Spot

The views at Topanga were truly breathtaking; I have never seen so many stars in one place before! The park's remote location made it easy to find a quiet spot where you can get away from all distractions and really appreciate nature's beauty without interruption or interference from light pollution or other people. It also made it easier for us to see meteors; if you're not near any cities or towns when you go out stargazing, then your chances of seeing shooting stars increase dramatically!

Packing for a Stargazing Trip: My Essential Checklist

It's important to make sure you’re prepared for your trip so that you can have the best experience possible. Here are some of the essential items I made sure to bring with me for several of my trips, so be sure this list is tested!


Binoculars

Having a good pair of binoculars is essential if you want to get the most out of your stargazing experience. Binoculars will help you see more stars in greater detail than you would just using your naked eye. Make sure to look for binoculars with large objectives (the lens at the front) and high magnifications (the number written on them). This will give you clearer, brighter views with less distortion. Also, be sure to check that they are waterproof and fog proof in case there is any wet weather during your trip! There are many models on the market, but I recommend you to start with a basic model. It will give you a decent level of night vision. Some objects can be seen with the naked eye, if you are in a dark place without night pollution.

Clothing

When packing clothes for your stargazing trip, remember it may get cold at night depending on where you’re going and what time of year it is. Therefore, it’s important to dress appropriately so that you stay warm and comfortable throughout your outing. Bring layers and make sure to pack extra socks, gloves, hats, and scarves in case the temperature drops unexpectedly.

Weather-Appropriate Gear

If you plan on doing any hiking or camping during your stargazing trip, make sure to pack weather-appropriate gear such as raincoats or ponchos if rain is forecasted; sturdy boots if snow or mud are expected; and insect repellent if there are mosquitoes in the area. You don’t want bad weather or pesky insects ruining your view!

Binoculars I Used for Stargazing at Topanga State Park

The night sky is a fascinating place, full of stars, planets, and galaxies. Stargazing is a great way to learn about our universe and get lost in its beauty. I recently had the chance to stargaze at Topanga State Park, and I was able to use one of the best binoculars on the market - the Celestron Skymaster 25x100


Celestron Skymaster 25x100 Binoculars
Celestron Skymaster 25x100 Binoculars


Size and Weight

The Celestron Skymaster 25x100 binoculars are large in size and weight. They measure 13.3 x 6.8 x 8 inches and weigh 4 pounds which makes them heavier than most other binoculars on the market today. However, this extra weight gives them superior image quality compared to lighter models because it helps provide stability when trying to view far away objects in the night sky.

Packing and Portability

I was worried about how bulky these binoculars would be when packing for my trip but thankfully, I found that they come with a padded carrying case that easily fits into any backpack or suitcase! This made it easy to carry around during my trip without having to worry about damaging them due to their weight and size.

Sky Watch Performance

When it comes to performance, these binoculars deliver excellent results! The model features multi-coated lenses which help improve image clarity by reducing glare and reflections from light sources like street lamps or car headlights. I also noticed that the lenses are extremely sharp which makes it possible to see distant objects in great detail even if there isn’t much ambient light available!

Overall, I was very impressed with the performance of these binoculars during my stargazing experience at Topanga State Park! They provided me with crystal clear images of stars, planets, nebulae, galaxies, comets...you name it!


If you’re looking for an amazing pair of binoculars that can provide you with crisp images even in low-light conditions then look no further than the Celestron Skymaster 25x100 Binoculars! They have all the features you need for a successful stargazing experience including multi-coated lenses that reduce glare and reflection from artificial lights as well as sharp lenses that can pick up distant objects clearly even if there isn’t much ambient light available! Plus they come with a padded carrying case so you don’t have to worry about lugging around heavy equipment on your next outdoor adventure! All in all, these binoculars are an excellent choice for anyone who loves stargazing or wants to explore more of our beautiful night sky!



Helpful review: "This was my first pair of any kind of binoculars. After researching and combing reviews for 2 months in all sizes and configurations applicable to stargazing only, I purchased these knowing they might go right back...and three sessions with this thing was all I needed to get the refund process started. Why? BECAUSE THE VIEW IS GORGEOUS AND I WANT MORE LOL Honestly, I love these, but I knew that if binocular stargazing gave me a considerable experience to go with my Cassegrain, I would want more than 25X. Even at that power, these 100mm's made starscan sweeps that peppered your view with 10X more stars than you'll see naked eye viewing in remote locations. I'm positive that a smartphone holder and motor mount would have pulled up a few nebulas straight to my gallery, but it's already on its way back. 'm 6'4 with an IPD of around 68-70(?), quick pivot adjustment and I confirmed collimation was A+ out the box. That seemed to be the biggest complaint with these larger binoculars during my research, Celestron came through on that part. The nylon carry case is adequate and sensible, I see other brands with hard cases and as a 25+yr Pelican user, I honestly would get my own Pelican for something this big and valuable instead of trusting a no-name brand case to hold up. You need a parallelogram mount. I also lift and stay active regularly, I was able to hold these steady, but it was not as enjoyable as me mounting them and things being a lot smoother. Do not use a regular tripod unless it's something super heavy duty. I used a Bosch construction tripod meant for laser levels, it was overkill, but imagine this precious beauty smacking the ground. No lol All all in all, Celestron delivered here, my thing is for the size, weight, and mount/tripod integrity investment, once I personally commit to that level, I'm okay with spending a bit more to get more power. If all you want to do is stargaze and not view nebulas or planetary rings in real time, these are perfect and priced with considerable value in mind for that purpose. If you want more than that, you can stick to telescopes the same price or a little cheaper that will give you a bit more power or you'll no doubt jump up to the $1K-2800-5K+ binocular offerings that allegedly give you the best of both formats, accept 1.25 eyepiece variations, filters, etc. I conclusion, you're not losing here, there is value and quality, you will get an eyeful of stars and lunar mountain ranges...but once you get hooked, you will want more. I would have kept these if I felt I would get at least 2yrs satisfaction without any immediate urge or ability to upgrade before then.." - M. Eggleston

Get it from Amazon now: $345.95 & FREE Returns

What is Topanga Canyon Famous For?

Topanga Canyon is renowned for its rich history, stunning natural beauty, and vibrant arts scene. Nestled within the Santa Monica Mountains, it's known for:

  1. Natural Beauty: Topanga Canyon's scenic beauty is breathtaking. It's replete with lush vegetation, spectacular vistas, rolling hills, and flowing creeks. The dramatic landscapes have inspired many artists and photographers over the years.

  2. Historic Significance: The area was home to Native American tribes for thousands of years before the arrival of Spanish explorers and later American settlers. Many local place names reflect this heritage.

  3. Artistic Community: The canyon has a long history as a haven for artists, musicians, and writers, drawn to its peaceful, secluded surroundings. Today, it still hosts a thriving community of artists and is home to several art festivals and events.

  4. Music History: During the 1960s and 1970s, Topanga Canyon was a hub for folk and rock musicians. Bands like The Eagles and artists like Neil Young were part of the vibrant music scene.

  5. Topanga State Park: As one of the largest open space preserves located within a city's limits worldwide, Topanga State Park is a major draw, offering outdoor recreation and stunning views.

What Animals are in Topanga State Park?

Topanga State Park is home to a diverse range of wildlife. This includes:

  1. Mammals: Animals like the gray fox, mule deer, raccoon, coyote, and bobcat are regularly spotted. Smaller mammals, like various rodent species and rabbits, are also common.

  2. Birds: The park is a birdwatcher's paradise, with over a hundred bird species, including hawks, hummingbirds, owls, and the California quail, the state bird of California.

  3. Reptiles and Amphibians: There's a variety of reptiles, including lizards and snakes (like the harmless gopher snake and occasionally a rattlesnake), as well as amphibians like the Pacific tree frog.

  4. Insects: A myriad of insects inhabit the park, including butterflies, bees, and beetles.

Remember, it's essential to respect the wildlife and keep a safe distance, ensuring both your safety and theirs.


Where Can I Hike in Topanga State Park?

Topanga State Park offers a variety of trails suitable for hikers of all levels. Here are some popular ones:

  1. Eagle Rock Loop Trail: This 4-mile loop takes you through a variety of landscapes, and culminates at the Eagle Rock, a fascinating geological formation.

  2. Los Liones Trail to Parker Mesa: This approximately 7-mile round-trip hike provides spectacular coastal and city views from Parker Mesa Overlook. The trail can be steep in parts but is well-maintained.

  3. Hub Junction Loop: This moderate, 5-mile loop offers views of Topanga Canyon, Santa Ynez Canyon, and even Catalina Island on a clear day.

  4. Musch Trail to Eagle Spring Loop Trail: This less crowded, 6-mile loop takes you through meadows and forests, and provides excellent ocean views.

Before hiking, remember to check the weather, wear suitable attire, carry plenty of water, and take a map of the park. Happy hiking!


Topanga State Park :Conclusion

If you're a fan of star gazing, Topanga Park and Malibu are the perfect places to check out! Make sure to create an itinerary full of locations to explore hiking through day by day. Whether it's missing Hollywood sign at night or watching shooting stars till sunrise make your way up in California can be a rejuvenating experience that will have memories that last forever. Enjoy this adventure - I hope as much as I did!


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