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A Guide to Malibu's Best Hiking Trails

Top Hikes in Malibu

Favorite Malibu Hikes:
Discover Malibu's Scenic Beauty and Adventure


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Updated on Mar 24 2024 4:32pm

Visit Malibu California
Visit Malibu California
Visit Malibu California

With more than 500 miles of public trails crisscrossing the Santa Monica Mountains, there is a hike for everyone, whether you're a first-timer or an experienced hiker.

Malibu is a popular spot for outdoor enthusiasts, and there are many beautiful hikes to choose from. Visitors to the area can expect to encounter other hikers, campers, and bird enthusiasts while exploring the trails. Many of the trailheads are a short drive from the 101 or Pacific Coast Highway, providing an easy escape from the urban jungle to natural wild places. However, trail regulations often vary depending on land jurisdiction, so always plan ahead to see if you can bring your furry friend or if there is an entrance fee. Here are some of the favorite Malibu hikes to get you started.

Backbone Trail to Sandstone Peak and Mishe Mokwa Trail Loop

Moderate, 5.7 miles
1,312 ft Elevation gain
Loop
The Backbone Trail Loop is a must-visit trail in Malibu, California, that offers an excellent outdoor experience for hikers, runners, and bird enthusiasts. Covering a distance of 5.7 miles, the trail is considered moderately challenging, making it perfect for those who want to enjoy a good workout while admiring the beautiful scenery. As one of the most popular areas in the Santa Monica Mountains, visitors should expect to encounter other people while exploring the trail. Dogs are allowed but must be kept on a leash. The trail is open year-round, so visitors can plan a visit at any time of the year to enjoy the breathtaking views and stunning sandstone formations.

The Backbone Trail Loop is a beautiful and adventurous trail that offers a fantastic outdoor experience. One of the most spectacular features of the Backbone Trail Loop is the Echo Cliffs. These cliffs offer a great opportunity for rock climbing enthusiasts to climb to the top and enjoy the magnificent views from above. The trail also leads to Sandstone Peak and Inspiration Point, where visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes. This hike is highly recommended, and visitors are advised to come prepared with the appropriate gear and plenty of water to enjoy the entire trail comfortably.


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Mishe Mokwa to Tri-Peaks and Sandstone Peak

Moderate, 6.8 miles
1,692 ft Elevation gain
Loop
The Mishe Mokwa Trail Loop is a popular hiking trail located near Malibu, California. The trail covers a distance of 6.8 miles and is considered moderately challenging, with an average completion time of 3 hours and 43 minutes. Visitors to the area can expect to encounter other hikers, campers, and bird enthusiasts while exploring the trail. Dogs are welcome but must be kept on a leash. The trail is open year-round and offers beautiful scenery and landscapes, making it an ideal spot for outdoor activities.

The Mishe Mokwa Trail takes hikers on a journey through various landscapes and showcases the stunning views of the Santa Monica Mountains. The trail starts at the Yerba Buena Road, and hikers climb northwest to the shaded Split Rock. Along the way, hikers can see the Balanced Rock on their right before heading west towards the unmaintained spur to Tri-Peaks. The summit of Tri-Peaks can be reached by climbing half a mile uphill, offering one of the best views on this hike. After descending from Tri-Peaks, hikers must follow the trail markers towards Sandstone Peak, passing two water tanks to the right as an indicator of heading in the right direction.

The trail continues to climb as hikers pass Inspiration Point, Boney Peak, and finally arrive at Sandstone Peak. The climb to the summit can be intense after covering 5.5 miles, but the breathtaking views are worth the effort. After taking in the sights, hikers can descend and take an immediate right to continue their journey back to the trailhead. Overall, the Mishe Mokwa Trail Loop is a must-visit trail for outdoor enthusiasts looking for a challenging yet rewarding hike with stunning views of the Santa Monica Mountains.


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Eagle Rock Via East Topanga Fire Road

Moderate, 3.8 miles
853 ft Elevation gain
Out & back
The Eagle Rock Trail via East Topanga Fire Road is a 3.8-mile out-and-back trail located near Malibu, California. The trail is considered moderately challenging and takes an average of 1 hour and 59 minutes to complete. The area is popular for hiking, running, and walking, and visitors are likely to encounter other outdoor enthusiasts while exploring. The trail is open year-round and offers beautiful views of downtown Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and nearby mountains. However, dogs are not allowed on this trail.

During the hike, visitors can enjoy stunning views of downtown LA, Santa Monica Bay, and the surrounding mountains. The trail is mostly sunny, with some sections being steeper than others, and some areas are shaded and cooler. The best views are often seen during sunset, making it a perfect spot for those who enjoy hiking in the evenings. Overall, the Eagle Rock Trail via East Topanga Fire Road is a great option for those seeking a moderately challenging hike with breathtaking views of the city and mountains.


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Escondido Falls Trail

Easy, 3.7 miles
534 ft Elevation gain
Out & Back
The Escondido Falls Trail is a great option for those looking for an easy hike with beautiful views. The trail follows a creek for much of the way and passes through some lovely wooded areas. Although the upper falls are not accessible to the public, the lower falls are still an impressive sight and worth the trip. Be sure to bring your camera to capture the beauty of the falls and surrounding scenery.

One thing to keep in mind is that the trail can get quite busy, especially on weekends, so be prepared to encounter other hikers. It's also important to bring plenty of water and sunscreen, as the trail can be quite exposed in some areas. Overall, the Escondido Falls Trail is a great choice for anyone looking for a quick and easy hike with stunning views.

Solstice Canyon Loop

Moderate, 3.0 miles
669 ft Elevation gain
The Solstice Canyon Loop is a must-visit hiking trail in Malibu, California, for those seeking a moderate hike with spectacular views. The trail takes about 1 hour and 34 minutes to complete, covering a distance of 3 miles. The loop offers a great opportunity for a scenic walk with your dog while enjoying nature. The trail is open year-round and is one of the most popular hiking areas in the region, so you're likely to encounter other hikers on your adventure.

The trail offers a glimpse into the history of the area, with the oldest still-standing stone building in Malibu located along the path. In addition, there are several ruins to explore, including the ruins of a mansion. The hike is particularly memorable for its stunning views of the ocean from the Rising Sun Trail, which heads up the ridge. As you hike, you will also encounter lovely pools, a small waterfall, and a hidden statue of the Virgin Mary, adding to the beauty and serenity of the trail.

The Solstice Canyon Loop is an excellent choice for hikers looking for a challenging yet rewarding adventure. You'll be rewarded with breathtaking views and a tranquil atmosphere, making it a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. So, grab your hiking boots, a bottle of water, and embark on this unforgettable journey.

Escondido Falls Trail

Easy, 3.7 miles
Elevation gain 534 ft
Out & Back
The Escondido Falls Trail is a great option for those looking for an easy hike near Malibu, California. This dog-friendly trail is open year-round and is a popular destination for hikers, bird watchers, and mountain bikers alike. With its easy accessibility and beautiful surroundings, it's no wonder that this trail sees a lot of foot traffic.

One of the highlights of this trail is the waterfall, which is located in Escondido Canyon Park. While the upper falls are not open to the public due to their location on private property, visitors can still enjoy the lower falls, which are easily accessible from the trail. However, it is important to note that climbing the falls is not recommended in order to preserve the fragile habitat and avoid the risk of injury. Overall, the Escondido Falls Trail is a great option for those looking for a scenic, easy hike in the Malibu area.

Malibu Visitor Guide
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