Highlights: Beautiful canyon, sculpted rock formations, great mountain views
Near: Calabasas, CA
Distance: 4 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 800 ft
Hike Time: 2.5 hours
Trail Condition: Well maintained trail
Slabs of cavernous sandstone and cobble conglomerate tilted sharply upward in Red Rock Canyon tell a geologic story of deposition by gentle currents and massive floods, later faulting and folding of the resulting sedimentary rock layers, and ongoing weathering and erosion. The beige and purplish-red colors of the rock straits contrast nicely with the green and grays of oaks, sycamores, and chaparral - altogether making the canyon reminiscent of the cinematic wild west. Here I'll describe the "black-door" approach to the Red Rock Canyon from its top (west) side, ideal for a weekend stroll or mountain-bike ride. In addition, hikers may want to try a side trip up the slope north of the canyon using the narrow Red Rock Canyon trail.
Park in the large turnout at mile marker 1.0 on Stunt Road (1 mile from Mulholland Highway). Cross the pavement road and pick up the fire road that cuts across a hillside to the north. When you reach a junction in a saddle at 0.7 mile, you are at the head of Red Rock Canyon. Turn right on the crooked road descending into canyon, enjoying the scenery which becomes more interesting as the canyon becomes narrowed and deeper.
At 1.5 mile, on the left, the 1 mile long Red Rock Canyon Trail crosses the canyon's seasonal stream, heads abruptly upward along a ridge, and climbs circuitously to the north rim of the canyon. The side trip is worth it if the weather is clear and cool, otherwise probably not. After another 0.5 mile on the canyon road, you come to a picnic site on the ground of an old Boy Scout camp, and water for drinking. Keep going on the road just a bit farther and you'll discover a spectacular little gorge.