I’m going to admit something that’s a little embarrassing not only as a local hiker but also a 6-year strong Angeleno - I had never been to Will Rogers State Historic park until I finally decided to conquer the hike to Inspiration Point. The park is rich with history plus a polo field, a ranch house, and a beautiful picnic area. Oh, and did I mention the lovely 2.5-mile loop hike to Inspiration Point? It’s a great place to spend an entire day.
I will say, the one downfall of this area is the steep price you have to pay for parking! The fee is $12, so if you are going check this area out, it’s definitely worth it to pack a picnic and spend some time there.
From the parking lot just beyond the park entrance, you’ll find the trailhead meandering up the hillside just to the left of the fenced in tennis courts. The single track here switches back and forth for a short tenth of a mile before you come to a service road, which is the Inspiration Point Loop Trail. Across the way, there is a single track that continues to wind it’s way up, while the service road gradually makes its way up the mountainside with views of the Santa Monica bay. If you choose to take the single track, it will cut your distance and time in half. Otherwise, continue along the service road.
As you make your way to the left, you’ll find two benches along the road, offering beautiful vistas of the surrounding area. One looks south over the polo field and Santa Monica. The other rests at the western end of the loop and has a great view of the Pacific Ocean.
Follow a bend in the trail to the northeast. Just past the top of the aforementioned single track, you will come to another split with a trail breaking off to the right. You’ll see arrows and signs for Inspiration Point in both directions! You have two options. You can take the road another quarter mile up Inspiration Point Loop Trail to the overlook, or you can turn down this single track, which crosses a chaparral-covered depression to reach the point after 0.4 miles. We took the single track, which was a fun little detour. Both routes lead to your destination of Inspiration Point.
If you followed the road, you’ll get more lovely views of the taller mountains off to the north until you eventually come to a split. Take a right up along a spur trail that wraps around a short rise to reach Inspiration Point.
To the southwest, you’ll find an amazing view as the Pacific Ocean curls it’s way around Santa Monica Bay. To the north, you’ll find wonderful views as well. Looking out to the Santa Monica Mountains you’ll find the 2,126 ft. high Temescal Peak.
To close the trail loop, head back down to the trail split. A couple hundred feet to the north is a trail map. The Backbone Trail (which is roughly 65miles long and crosses the Santa Monica mountains all the way to Point Mugu) breaks off to the left, while the descent from Inspiration Point continues on to the right. Hike straight through a junction with a service road heading down to Will Rogers Ranch and continue to the eastern edge of the loop. Along the way you’ll spot mansions at the top of Sullivan Ridge to the east as you make your way to a line of eucalyptus bordering the trail.
This is one of the only shaded areas along the loop, which provides a charming canopy for the remainder of the hike. Continue another 0.4 miles down the hillside to the bottom of the trail. Here, you can take a peek around the ranch or say hello to the horses! You’ll pick the trail back up as it runs next to a large green lawn. This is the perfect place for a picnic or to enjoy a good book under the sun. Follow the trail along the top of the field and behind the Will Rogers House to complete the loop and return to the parking lot.
Note: Dogs are not allowed on the park trails, however, you may have your leashed pups on the lawn.
As mentioned before, there is a $12 fee for parking. You can also find (limited) free roadside parking outside of the main entrance.
How to get there: Follow Sunset Boulevard to Will Rogers State Park Road, located 4.5 miles west of the 405 and 3 miles east of the PCH. At the traffic light, turn north on Will Rogers State Park Road. Go about 3/4 of a mile up the mountainside to the park entrance. Pull past the gate and park in the lot on the left.
Address: 1501 Will Rogers State Park Road, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272