The Rustic Canyon Trail is a somewhat rugged, unmaintained trail that can be accessed from the Will Rogers State Park property. It is a 5-mile loop that has a lot to offer, including creek crossings, mountain views, and intriguing history.
What Makes It Great
As mentioned, the trail starts off in the historic Will Rogers State Park, in the upper corner near the Polo fields. From there, the trail starts off pretty nice until it reaches the creek; this is where the real adventure begins. You're feet will get wet, you'll get muddy and sweaty, so if that's not what you're looking for, don't bother with Rustic Canyon.
After about 2 miles of creek crossings and creek-bed hiking, you'll reach one of the most interesting parts of the hike: the Murphy Ranch, a compound built in the 1930's. The property is now left in ruins and all of the buildings are covered in graffiti.
After exploring these ruins for a bit, continue along the trail up towards the connector trail for the Backbone Trail in the Santa Monica mountains. This is a beautiful trail with mountain views and bridge crossings that begins your loop back towards Will Rogers State Park. On the way back, there's a .1 mile spur trail to Inspiration Point, which is worth checking out for the ocean views, and from there on out its smooth sailing back to your car.
Who is Going to Love It
All in all, a great 5-mile hike featuring creeks, mountains, rugged trails, and interesting history. Just be prepared and know that you're not getting a well-maintained walk in the park, so to speak.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From Hikespeak.com: "Find Rustic Canyon Trail entering Topanga State Park from the east side of the Will Rogers Polo Field. Hike a third of a mile down a maintained dirt single track dropping into the canyon. When you hit the creek turn left and head up the canyon."