A Bird’s Eye View at Parker Mesa Overlook

After our first visit to Parker Mesa Overlook five months ago, my friend and I vowed to return. Though we certainly enjoyed our hike, we knew we were missing out on something big. The guidebook promised stunning 360 degree views, but we saw absolutely nothing due to the extreme fog. We didn’t know if we were looking towards the ocean, mountains, or at houses. We had no idea which direction was where. It was actually an odd, surreal feeling to be so enveloped in fog (you can see a picture here)—an unusual and intriguing experience in and of itself, but we wanted the whole package, which included the views.

So one morning recently we headed out to see if we’d have more luck with the views. It was a gorgeous day and no fog whatsoever, only a little haze in the distance. What was immediately noticeable about this hike, as opposed to the first one, was that we could see exactly where the trail was going and what was ahead and around us. At one point, we could actually see where the overlook was and got an idea of what the views might be, and they looked promising.

There's the overlook ahead, the hilltop with the lone tree!

There’s the overlook ahead, the hilltop with the lone tree!

And when we reached the overlook, we were not disappointed. There were amazing views in every direction. We saw the ocean, the coastline north and south, inland to the tall buildings of Century City (or maybe Westwood?), and into Topanga State Park and the Santa Monica Mountains. It was breathtaking and peaceful. We were above all the busyness of the world down below. We sat for quite a while just taking it all in. Continue reading

In the Clouds at Parker Mesa Overlook

What a treat to go mid-week hiking with a girlfriend! We dropped our kids off at school in Santa Monica, and then we headed north along Pacific Coast Highway. Fifteen minutes later, we were high up in the hills of Pacific Palisades at the edge of Topanga State Park, surrounded by beautiful nature and a promise of stunning views.

I had hiked in the same area not long before this. That hike started at the bottom of the hill at a private residence and worked its way up Los Liones Trail and ended at a viewpoint (and then we headed back down). The view that day at the viewpoint was fabulous…

Los Liones Trail view

For today’s hike, we drove up and up to the end of a long, windy road and started hiking about where the previous hike had ended. Today the view was still impressive, but the fog was teasing us and obscured it a bit. My friend and I ventured on.

I had more on my agenda than just hiking and chatting. I had learned that there were seven geocaches right along the route, and with my friend being a geocacher too (she’s the one with whom I hosted a geocaching party earlier this year), I thought we could try to find some caches as well. I also had a travel bug I needed to drop off in a new cache.

Travel bug with viewThe first geocache came upon us quickly, and after initially being sidetracked by what we thought were trails leading to ground zero, we found the cache hidden in a neat pile of rocks off to the side in plain site. I happily said good-bye to the geocoin, but not until I had taken a picture of it with the view of the coast and the fog rolling in. The next few geocaches passed us by as we focused on hiking the uphill climb and were engrossed in conversation. We enjoyed the varied scenery around us and the many adorable bunny rabbits that hopped across the fire road. There were many places to enjoy views, but the fog was coming in quickly so I don’t think we got the full experience.

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As we continued onwards and towards the overlook, we could really see the fog moving in. We were walking in the fog without much knowledge of what was too far ahead of us. Suddenly, we were at the overlook, a nice little flat area with two benches and even a hitching post.

At the overlook was also another cache for us to seek. The geocache description warned of rattlesnakes and advised caution. The cache owner recommended using a stick to probe the area first and then to double check before reaching in or under anything. We were happy to oblige, especially since I had seen a huge rattlesnake on my last hike in this area. Luckily, we found a great probing stick nearby and found the cache without running into any snakes. And I picked up another travel bug to move along.

Unknown view at the overlookThe view at this overlook is supposed to be absolutely stunning. My guidebook states we should have seen 360-degree views. We saw absolutely nothing. The fog had come in so densely that we couldn’t even tell if we were looking at mountains or houses or the coast. I had lost all sense of direction. It was kind of an eerie feeling. We weren’t even really that disappointed that we couldn’t see anything because the feeling of being so surrounded by fog was cool in itself, but we certainly are very eager to come back again to see what we missed!

On the way back down, we found another geocache, but we left the remaining four for our next time up. We even discussed how this would be an awesome hike for our next geocaching party. The fog continued to come in and it even began drizzling lightly. We weren’t bothered by the weather at all; it actually added an unexpected element of intrigue to the outing. It also gave us more reason to return because most likely our next time hiking this trail will feel like a totally different experience.