Trippet Ranch

Topanga Canyon Nature CenterOpen on Sundays from 10am-3pm January through July. Trippet Ranch is located in the “skeet lodge”, one of several historic buildings in the 40 acre Trippet Ranch. After a devastating wildfire in 1938, Oscar Trippet, Jr. hired noted Los Angeles architect Sumner Spaulding to design the Monterey Revival style skeet lodge as well as the superintendent’s house and stables.

The Topanga Canyon Docents, who have provided interpretive activities in Topanga State Park for over 30 years, enhanced their interpretive activities by establishing a natural history museum in the skeet lodge building more than 20 years ago. All museum exhibits were acquired, designed and built by the Docents who proudly named the museum the “Nature Center”. The Docents staffed the Nature Center and answered questions about the park. In 2006, because of pending renovation by State Parks, all the exhibits had to be removed and put in storage. The Topanga Canyon Docents then donated their entire collection to State Parks so that once the museum reopened, the collection could continue to be displayed. The renovation was completed late 2014, and the museum reopened with new features and exhibits containing the original collection. The building is now known as the “Visitor Center” and is open Sundays January through June from 10am-3pm.

What is skeet?

Don’t expect to see shooting at Trippet Ranch now

No guns are allowed in the park. Skeet is a competitive shooting sport where participants attempt to hit clay disks flung into the air. Skeet was used by the military during World War II to teach gunners how to lead and time flying targets. The sport enjoyed renewed popularity after the war, and Oscar Trippet, Jr. enjoyed it enough to have shooting features in his new lodge – a built-in gun cabinet, semi-circular lawn and trap houses. Topanga was remote enough to make it a perfect place to enjoy this noisy sport with friends. These were mostly overnight guests because of the time it took to get here before the freeways. The lodge had bunk beds and a special horizontal door so the Trippets could drag their mattresses onto the porch and sleep outdoors during those hot summer nights.

skeet_trapSkeet was invented by a grouse hunter to simulate the action of bird hunting. A squad of shooters take turns at each of 8 positions. Several targets are fired at each position in a complex sequence of highs, lows, and pairs spelled out in the rules for that position. Two houses at the corners of the semi-circular course hold mechanical devices called “traps” that fling the targets (also called clay pigeons) a distance of 60 feet. The trap in the “high” house launches from 10 feet off the ground, the “low” house from 3 feet off the ground. The clay pigeons are just over 4 inches in diameter, and 25 are fired for each shooter. A “perfect” score of 25 is difficult but not impossible to achieve with practice. Although the traps are long gone, the high and low houses built for them by Oscar Trippet, Jr. still stand at the edge of the Visitor Center lawn. The trees have grown up since Trippet used the lawn for skeet in the 1940s and 50s.