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Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area Hikes

With over 500 miles of trails tucked into the Los Angeles area, the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area has great hikes for all levels. There are mountain trails, waterfalls, historic walks, and spectacular ocean views. The trail guides here have something for everyone.

Name Distance Level Location Climb Dogs
Solstice Canyon Hike3.2ModerateMalibu700Y
Hike Sandstone Peak on the Mishe Mokwa Trail7.2ModerateMalibu1760Y
Escondido Falls Hike3.7EasyMalbiu600Y
Hike Malibu Creek Rock Pool + MASH Site5EasyCalabasas400N
Hike Mugu Peak Trail3ModerateMalibu1270N

All Guides

Solstice Canyon Hike

Solstice Canyon Hike

The Solstice Canyon hike in Malibu is one of the most beautiful (and popular) hikes you can find. Within the short distance of 3 miles, you get a bit of everything, ocean views from coastal hillsides, a shaded canyon along only one of two perennial water sources in the Santa Monica Mountains, a waterfall, and a solid dose of architecture and local history. In this guide, I’ll take you on the popular loop hike to enjoy all the sights along Solstice Canyon.

Malibu, CA - 3.2 miles, Moderate

Hike Sandstone Peak on the Mishe Mokwa Trail

Hike Sandstone Peak on the Mishe Mokwa Trail

The hike to Sandstone Peak, the highest point in the Santa Monica Mountains at 3,111 feet, is a classic. If you simply want to get to the summit, slog up the steep and short trail to the peak. But I highly recommend taking this popular scenic loop via the Mishe Mokwa Trail instead. You’ll get to fully enjoy the beauty of the Santa Monica Mountains, including the iconic Balanced Rock, Echo Cliffs, Split Rock, and Tri-Peaks. Hiking up the Mishe Mokwa Trail also gives your legs a break; the longer loop is not as steep as the direct route.

Malibu, CA - 7.2 miles, Moderate

Escondido Falls Hike

Escondido Falls Hike

The Escondido Falls hike is an easy way to see one of the most unique and spectacular waterfalls in Southern California. Unlike most falls, Escondido Falls is covered in moss, giving the waterfall a “bearded” look. Overall the trail is easy to follow and is a great beginner and family-friendly hike.

Malbiu, CA - 3.7 miles, Easy

Hike Malibu Creek Rock Pool + MASH Site

Hike Malibu Creek Rock Pool + MASH Site

There’s a lot to see in Malibu Creek State Park, and in this guide, I’ll take you on a “best of” tour of the highlights in the park. First, we’ll visit the famous Rock Pool, then escape the crowds at the scenic Century Lake dam, finally finishing with a canyon-side trail to the famous MASH television show set. It’s an easy hike that’s full of adventure and history.

Calabasas, CA - 5 miles, Easy

Hike Mugu Peak Trail

Hike Mugu Peak Trail

Don’t let the short distance fool you; the hike up to Mugu Peak is challenging, climbing 1200 feet in about a mile. But with great effort comes a great reward, and the views from the summit of Mugu Peak are spectacular, from the high peaks of the Santa Monica Mountains to the Channel Islands. And while you’re suffering on the climb, let your mind wander by thinking about the trail you are on, used by the native Chumash peoples for over 7,000 years. The Mugu Peak Trail is a fun adventure that’s worth the effort.

Malibu, CA - 3 miles, Moderate