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Driving Road Review: Topanga Canyon Loop - DrivingScene

Driving Road Review: Topanga Canyon Loop

Posted on 17 September 2012 by Adam Kaslikowski

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Route: Old Topanga Canyon Road to Mulholland Dr. to North Topanga Canyon Blvd.

Total Length: 14.6 miles

Directions: Pacific Coast Highway to Topanga Canyon Blvd (4.3 miles). Left onto Old Topanga Canyon Road (7.4 miles). Right onto Mulholland Hwy (0.5 mile). Turn Right onto Topanga Canyon Blvd (6.7 miles). Rinse. Repeat.


Total Rating: ★★★☆☆

This route is a quintessential California mountain road, packed with tight curves, long straights, scrub brush, stunning vistas, and of course traffic. Nestled between Malibu and Woodland Hills, we jumped on off the PCH and just ran the loop over and over for a few hours.  I recommend this loop for lower speed cars/bikes – vehicles and pilots more worried about enjoying the journey than achieving outright speed.


Curves Rating: ★★★☆☆

Plenty of curves of all radiuses on Old Topanga, plus straights and long sweepers on North Topanga. Just great. Unfortunately many of the tight curves on Old are utterly blind and thus require fun killing caution or life killing insanity.


Police Presence Rating: ★★★★★

Didn’t see a one. Despite driving like a jackass, I was not hassled beyond getting honked at by one concerned citizen. Hopefully this holds all of the time.


Traffic Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Soccer moms and late model Accords abound on the second half. They will halt your progress and there is a big absence of passing areas. On my pass I ran into roughly one car every mile on Old Topanga, and was stuck behind a line of quick moving cars on North Topanga .


Scenic Beauty Rating: ★★★☆☆

Ocean views pop in and out, and on the latter half of the route you get long looks at the mountains and canyons of Southern California. And apparently Justin Bieber’s third house. Wish it was a little more green, but that’s just nitpicky.


Population Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Houses and small neighborhoods are dotted around the mountain, adding to the traffic load and the ever present threat that someone is going to pop out of that next driveway that joins the road.


Speed Rating: ★★★★☆

Traffic notwithstanding, I was never wanting for more speed. I generally stayed within the speed limit and found maintaining that through the twisties was challenging enough. The high speed second half of the loop is a nice release after staying in second for the majority of the first half.


Safety Rating: ★★★☆☆

Guardrails abound, but beyond are deep gorges you would not walk away from. The road itself is mostly 2 opposite lanes separated only by 2 solid yellow lines. Keep in your lanes and stay out of the gorges.