The Red Rock Road Trail within the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area is a jewel just outside Los Angeles where you and your pooch will find challenging sections and furtastic views. The red sandstone formations that surround you, with granite spikes running through, will capture your attention immediately as you leave the parking area and head up the old fire road, passing some enticing stone caves and fossil traces you'll want to explore. Soon, there will be a fork in the road: the fire road, the more gradual of the 2 sections, goes left. The Eagle Scout Trail heads to the right and quickly takes you up a boulder field where you scramble up the narrow canyon, eventually meeting up with the fire road again. Watch for the occasional vertical drop.
This trail is alive with flora and fauna, featuring maple shade trees on the Scout Trail that will keep you cool part of the way, along with hundreds of wildflower species from Indian Paintbrush to poppies, lilacs, fuschia and ferns on both trails. Wildlife is abundant, from raptors like vultures and falcons to tiny hummingbirds and noisy crows and woodpeckers. Bobcats and mountain lions coexist with mule deer, rabbits and squirrels, rattlesnakes and garter snakes.
The trailhead features an "Iron Ranger" where you'll deposit your cash parking fee and find toilets, water and a picnic area. There are rangers in the area, and they will enforce the parking fee and leashed dog rules. Several side spurs are worth exploring if you have the time, and the Calabasas Peak summit offers a steep final climb that rewards you with pawtastic 360-degree views of the mountains to the north and east, and the Pacific Ocean to the west. The rocks at the top are wide and flat, providing perfect spots to rest, enjoy a snack or picnic, and capture some pics of the incredible beauty.
Equipped with lots of water, perhaps some hiking booties to protect Fido's paws from the hot rocks, and a hat, you're sure to find lots to love on this trail!
Be aware that this area is also home to some potentially dangerous denizens, such as rattlesnakes, mountain lions, tarantulas, ticks, bees, stinging ants and coyotes. Keep your fur-pup securely leashed, wear good hiking boots, pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Antagonize these critters at your own risk! Watch for abundant poison oak, too, and stay on the trail to avoid it.