January 20, 2022

Topanga Walkabout/Talkabout Tours



Topanga Walkabout/Talkabout Tours

From left, Karen Moran and Linda Ballou on their Walkabout/Talkabout in Red Rock.

Want to get the scoop on the early beginnings of Topanga while discovering new trails? Join Karen Moran on her Walkabout/ Talkabout Tours.

Moran was born in the Canyon and raised in a historic rock cottage with few amenities. She has archived notes from the days when her mother and father supported their family of four children designing jewelry.

Instrumental in forging a path for artists, Karen’s father, Cyril C. Wood, started the Topanga Artists Guild (TAG) in 1952 with the hope that Topanga would become an enclave that provided a nurturing environment for writers, painters, musicians and artists of all stripes. The TAG theme song, “Waitin’ fer Nothin’ to Happen,” embodies the unhurried lifestyle early inhabitants of the canyon enjoyed.

Moran began her first Walkabout Tour with a talk about early beginnings at her home in Old Topanga. She shared her paintings of one of the six rock cottages scattered along Old Topanga Canyon Road. A brief pop quiz of terrific trivia about the Canyon ensued.

Did you know that Pine Tree Circle was the home of the Strawberry Festival held each year, or that the ground the Inn of the Seventh Ray is sitting on was once home to a Four Square Church?

Karen then led our band of six initiates, all locals, wanting to know more about the significance of landmarks to the Red Rock Trailhead.

This hike through Sedona-like rock formations riddled with solution pocks is the path to a forty acre parcel at the top of Red Rock once owned by the Wood Family. Acquired by the State in the 1980s, it is presently maintained by the Santa Monica Mountain Conservancy. We marched upward through an oak-shaded tree tunnel beneath massive cliffs rife with fossils. The layers of geologic time are visible in bands that stripe the boulders thrust skyward by earthquake and volcanic action

We crested the ridge overlooking Mulholland Highway, just below Calabasas Peak, made a left up what was the driveway to the plot where Karen’s father had hoped to build his dream home. The view of purple mountains stretching to the horizon must have been soothing balm for his artistic soul. Today a bench beneath an oak tree on the plateau invites the hiker to rest for a spell. Karen told us we could hike up the crest of the mountain from the plateau up to the waterfalls on our next exploration.


Topanga Walkabout/Talkabout Tours

From left, Foster and Karen Sherwood, Karen L.Moran, Ron Sharrin, Lynn Dickhoff, and Becca Barkin on the Red Rock Plateau.

Another suggested walkabout tour would be one to the many bed and breakfasts springing up like mushrooms. I have no room in my inn for out-of-town guests and would love to preview local lodging options so that I can recommend ones that are appropriate for visiting friends. Topanga, once a remote enclave for eccentrics who needed privacy, has become a destination that allows visitors to enjoy quietude while being close to the city and beaches.

As a newcomer to the Canyon, I was very pleased to meet Moran and have the opportunity to learn more about local history. I have hiked the public trails throughout the Santa Monica Mountains and have a column on Examiner.com called “Great Outdoor Days in L.A.” Moran hinted that there is a new swath of land opening up to the public coming soon. I look forward to exploring new trails with her and picking up juicy tidbits for my “Outdoor Day” articles.


Topanga Walkabout/Talkabout Tours

Formation at Rock Creek in Red Rock in Topanga.

If you want to get in on the ground floor of local explorations and sign up for the next Walkabout/Talkabout Tour: Karen Moran, (310) 455-0214.

Linda Ballou is a free-lance writer specializing in adventure travel. She has written a travel memoir, “Lost Angel Walkabout: One Traveler’s Tales,” and her historical novel, “Wai-nani, A Voice from Old Hawai’I,” can be found online at LindaBallouAuthor.com. She shares many more “Great Outdoor Days in L.A” at examiner.com/outdoor-travel-in-los-angeles/linda-ballou.