Take in the views on this trail leading to these rare sandstone formations.
Perched amongst the mountains alongside the Santa Monica Mountains, is a beautiful hidden sandstone sanctuary with light pouring in through with natural skylights and sweeping vistas of Topanga State Park on the way up. Luckily, you won’t need to sweat too much for it with a very doable 0.6 miles round trip and an elevation of 100 feet. So there’s ample opportunity to explore the “artistic” touches adorning the walls and marvel at the interesting carvings formations.
Your journey to the natural gem begins at Vanalden Avenue in Tarzana, where there’s free street parking is available from 6 am to 9 pm. You’ll make your way through dense shrubbery, and continue for about 800 feet along a slight incline. You’ll arrive at a fork and take a smaller diret path on the left, it’s easy to miss, so keep your eyes peeled. If you choose to continue straight, you’ll land up at Vanalden Vista.
Both options are equally scenic and have connected trails that will get you to the cave, but the Vanalden Trail via an ampitheater-like view of the canyon below and will make it 1.55 mile round trip with an elevation of 350 feet. The mountains form a ring from this viewpoint, which makes it a worthwhile detour. Either way, you’ll want to know where you’re heading beforehand as there are plenty of junctions with no signs.
If you’ve taken the shortcut, you’ll find yourself in a oak grove which gets you to another split in the trail marked with a large oak tree. If you take a right, head into a little canyon and go right to the cave opening. This gorgeous den is 25 feet tall, 25 feet wide, and 50 feet deep with a path along the edge where you can reach the top of the cave and peer into the holes.
The dirt track enters an oak grove and descends to a large oak at another trail split, 0.05 miles from Vanaladen Trail. A trail breaking off to the right heads to the top of Vanalden Cave. Straight past the tree, you can drop into a ravine and turn right to hike up to the mouth of Vanalden Cave. A steep path alongside the cave allows you to connect the upper and lower trails to explore all sides of Vanalden Cave.
The arched entrance seems to open into a pitch-black abyss, but once you step inside, you’ll find the skylights illuminate ceilings covered and socft sanstone walls completely covered in graffiti. Unfortunately, there is a fair amount of litter throughout the cave and trail. So make sure you leave nothing behind, or considering clearing some up.
Location: 3630 Vanalden Avenue, Tarzana, CA 91356