Situated in sunny Southern California, between mountain ridges and Pacific vistas, is the dazzling small town of Malibu. A hub for outdoor activities with its beautiful beaches, great surf spots, and miles of canyon trails, Malibu is a bucket-list destination for many.
If you’re an outdoor lover looking to explore California in an enjoyable and budget-friendly way, then scenic Malibu hikes are perfect.
With an endless selection of trails, from adrenaline-pumping hikes to more leisurely walks, Malibu has something suited to every hiking ability.
Trek through the canyons, walk along the Pacific coast or chase some waterfalls. These trails provide some of the best views of the Malibu landscape.
With so many hiking options, it is not possible to visit and complete each and every one on your Malibu trip. So to help you find the perfect hike, here is a list of the best hiking trails in Malibu.
Malibu hikes are a great way for people to experience the beauty of the Southern California landscape fully. Some trails even run above the coastline, providing the most spectacular panoramic views of the Pacific ocean.
From canyon hikes to beach hikes, as well as routes that feature some of the region’s best waterfalls, here are some of the best hiking trails that Malibu has to offer.
The Solstice Canyon hike allows for a leisurely walk alongside the flowing Solstice Canyon Creek. But don’t confuse leisurely with easy, as the trail has its moderately challenging elevation gains along the way.
This scenic 3.0-mile loop walk follows a wide trail, passing by interesting ruins, a small waterfall, and some lovely picnic spots.
Even though the trail has moderate difficulty and some elevation gains, it is still considered the most family-friendly hike in the Santa Monica Mountains.
On this hike, you will come across several attractions. The first that you might discover (if hiking the loop clockwise) is the Keller House, one of Malibu’s oldest houses which has been preserved through over a century of wildfires.
Not far up the trail is the remains of the Roberts Ranch House, a Polynesian-style home built by the well-renowned American architect Paul Williams. The idea of olden ruins may sound eerie, but these spots are actually the perfect location for a lovely family picnic.
Just beyond the ruins, you will find a small 30-foot waterfall that spills down into a series of natural pools. To conclude your hike, try heading back via the Rising Sun Trail, which provides some fantastic views of the Pacific Ocean through the canyon.
Many other trails pass by the Solstice Canyon. For those wanting something more challenging, the Deer Valley Loop might be an option worth checking out.
Also hidden away in the Santa Monica mountains is Tuna Canyon Park, which boasts some of the most spectacular views of Malibu and the Pacific Ocean.
Much like the previously mentioned Solstice Canyon hike, the trails here are relatively easy to walk through. Devoid of rocks and covered by the shade provided by the oak trees and chaparral surroundings, these trails are suited to all hikers (and dogs).
On this hike, start by walking along a wide, shade-covered dirt road known as Big Rock Motorway. Soon you will find an unmarked junction splitting into two popular Malibu hike trails – Hearst Tank Motorway and Big Rock Motorway.
On Hearst Tank Motorway, hike towards the park’s highest peak, 1800 feet above the Pacific. Once here, take in the breathtaking panoramic views it provides of the canyons, ocean, and in the distance – the dazzling Los Angeles city.
Don’t forget to gaze down on one of the park’s most unique features, a mysterious stone labyrinth.
Alternatively, Big Rock Motorway follows a slightly longer trail and rewards hikers with an unparalleled view of the Pacific Ocean.
Regardless of which path you decide to follow, you’re guaranteed an adventure and an end destination that’s beyond beautiful. There are also lovely shady spots perfect for picnics along each route, so pack in some tasty snacks!
Looking for accommodation near Santa Monica? Check out the wonderful Malibu Beach Inn.
One of the most popular Malibu canyon hikes is the Escondido Falls hike. This hike follows along the Escondido Canyon Trail towards one of Los Angeles’s most spectacular waterfalls.
Walk along the mostly flat and shady path, passing through forest and fields, until you reach the modest Lower Escondido Falls. This 50-foot fern-lined waterfall is easy to reach and provides a stunning backdrop for a wonderful morning picnic.
Further up is the upper tier of Escondido Falls. The trip to this stunning waterfall can be challenging as it involves trekking up a steep and slippery trail.
For those who are willing to venture up, you will be rewarded with a view of one of the most breathtaking waterfalls in all of Los Angeles.
With water pouring 150 feet down into a calm pool below, this is a spectacle you do not want to miss. Just be sure to wear proper footwear and use the roots on your way up. It may also be wise to try to pack light for this Malibu hike.
Note that the waterfalls are likely to be dried up during the hotter summer months. It is recommended that you visit this trail during the earlier parts of the year when the falls are at their fullest.
Point Dume was named after Francisco Dumetz, a Franciscan priest, by English explorer George Vancouver. It is the highest point along this seaside trail and provides stunning views of the ocean, beach, coastal bluffs, and an array of marine life.
The elevated point is a popular spot for whale watching, particularly during the spring months. You can also expect to see dozens of sea lions, as well as dolphins.
The hike itself is a relatively short one, following an easy trail toward a rocky promontory that overlooks Pirate Cove Beach.
Along the path, you will find some stairs which head down towards the sandy Point Dume State Beach, which further blends into Zuma Beach. Once here, cool down with a dip in the ocean or simply relax, taking in the beauty of this untouched coastline.
If you wish to get in some additional exercise, take a lovely stroll along the shore towards Zuma Beach before heading back the way you came.
Another way to complete this hike is to start at Point Dume State Beach and make your way up toward the trail’s highest peak.
Feeling extra adventurous? Try out this awesome 4-hour rock climbing adventure on Point Dume State Beach.
Regardless of which hike you decide to tackle, you’ll most certainly be in for one epic adventure. Just be sure to check the weather forecast before heading out.
If you’re interested in any other epic hiking trails in the United States, check out these Colorado hikes.
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