Hike Mugu Peak Trail

Hike Mugu Peak Trail

In This Guide
  • Video and Turn-by-Turn Directions to Hike the Mugu Peak Trail
  • Where to Park for the Mugu Peak Trail
  • Insider Tips & Recommendations
Total Distance (?)3 miles (4.8 km)
Hike Time2 Hours (Total)
Difficulty (?)Moderate
Total Ascent (?)1,270 feet (387m)
Highest Elevation1,266 feet (386m)
Fees & PermitsFree
Dogs AllowedNo
Alerts & Closures (?)Point Mugu State Park
Park Phone805-488-1827
Weather & ForecastLatest Conditions
Stay SafeCopy this webpage link to the clipobard and share with a friend before you hike. Let them know when to expect you back.

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.

Where is Mugu Peak?

The trailhead for Mugu Peak, up the Chumash Trail, is right off the Pacific Coast Highway in Point Mugu State Park. The trailhead doesn’t have any official parking area or park signage, so you have to keep your eyes open for it. Use these GPS addresses:
Chumash Trailhead, Malibu, CA 90265 or 34.09171787401509, -119.06571593445499

Hike Mugu Peak Trail 3
Look for the dirt parking area on the side of the road.
Hike Mugu Peak Trail 2
The lot is a decent size and is across from the old Navy Seabee gunnery range (with the tower across the street).

There is no parking pass needed here.

Hike Mugu Peak Trail 1
The trailhead is at the end of the parking lot.

This hike is best done at sunrise or sunset when the crowds and temps are not too bad.

Gear For the Hike

This isn’t a long hike, and you are best served with light hiking gear or fitness clothes. You’re going to want good footwear for the dirt and rocks, and trekking poles will be helpful on the steep slopes. The coastal weather is often variable, it can be foggy or clear depending on the winds and season.

Garmin Inreach Mini 2

Garmin InReach Mini 2
I’m a firm believer in carrying a satellite communications device which works where cell phones don’t. I use a Garmin InReach which lets me send text messages back and forth to my family to let them know that I’m okay or if my plans change when I’m out in the backcountry. It also has an SOS subscription built-in so that you can reach first-responders in an emergency. The devices also offer weather reports, GPS, and navigation functionality (what’s the difference between a GPS and satellite communicator?). For a few hundred bucks they could save your life, so for me it’s a no brainer to have something like a Garmin InReach. If you use a smartphone to navigate and want a more affordable option that integrates with your phone easily, check out the ZOLEO.

Latest Prices: Amazon | REI

Lone Peak 6 Yellow

Altra Lone Peak 6
For most people, the Altra Lone Peak is a solid choice that will leave your feet feeling great at the end of any hike. The feel is cushy and light, and if it had a car equivalent, this would be a Cadillac or Mercedes Sedan. The grip is great and they’re reasonably durable for this type of trail runner, which I think is better in most conditions than a hiking boot, and here’s why. The downside of this shoe is that it won’t last as long as something like the Moab 2 (see alternate footwear choices at the bottom of my gear page). I’ve been using mine for many miles and my feet always feel great. I have a video on the details of the Altra Lone Peak 6 here.

Women’s Latest Prices: REI | Amazon 
Men’s Latest Prices: REI | Amazon 

Black Diamond Ergo Poles 2

Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Poles
I’ve gone back and forth on trekking poles, but I think for most people they are a good investment. They help you dig in on the uphills, provide stability on loose downhills, act as a brace when crossing streams, and can probably poke away aggressive wildlife in a pinch. The Trail Ergo Cork poles are a good balance of light weight, durability, affordability, and ease of use. If you want something ultralight and a little more pricey, I’ve had great luck with the Black Diamond Z Poles too.

Trail Ergo Poles: REI | Amazon 
Z-Poles: REI | Amazon 

Gregory Zulu 30

Gregory Zulu 30 & Jade 28
After testing quite a few backpacks, the Gregory Zulu 30 (and Jade 28 for women) is, for most hikers, the best all-season day-pack. First off, it’s very comfortable, and the mesh “trampoline” back keeps your back dry. Its 30L capacity is enough for all the essentials and plenty of layers for winter hiking. External pockets make it easy to grab gear. It’s hard to find something wrong with the pack; if anything, it could be a bit lighter, but overall, it’s not heavy. And its price-point makes it not only affordable but generally a great value.

Women’s Latest Prices: REIAmazon 
Men’s Latest Prices: REIAmazon 

Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend, updated May 2022.

My May 2022 Top Gear Picks

No company pays me to promote or push a product, all the gear you see here is gear I use and recommend. If you click an a link and buy gear, I get a small commission that helps keep the website ad and promotion free. There is no cost to you.

Mugu Peak Trail Maps

Click Here To View

Explore Map on CalTopoView a Printable PDF Hike MapDownload the Hike GPX File

If you try to download the GPX file and your browser adds a “.txt” or “.xml” extension to it, simply rename it as a “.gpx” file.


How Are You Going to Navigate This Hike?
Here’s what I use. If you are a hardcore hiker and/or hike in extreme conditions, I recommend getting a dedicated GPS like a GPSMAP 66sr or 66i, or a wrist-based GPS with maps like the Garmin Fenix 7 or Epix. If you only hike in fair weather and a touchscreen is fine, or just want a solid tool, I highly recommend downloading the smartphone app, Gaia GPS. It’s a piece of cake to use and very powerful, just make sure your phone is in airplane mode so the battery doesn’t drain. You can also check for wildfires, weather, snow, and choose from dozens of map types with a premium membership (HikingGuy readers get a big discount here). Note that I also carry a paper map with me in case the phone dies or gets smashed.

To access this guide when out of cell phone range on the trail, simply save the webpage on your phone ( iPhoneAndroid ).

Elevation Profile

Hike Mugu Peak Trail Elevation
Not many climbs in SoCal do 1200 feet of climbing in 1 mile, but the Mugu Peak Trail does. On the way back down, we’ll take a gentler slope so that we can enjoy the ocean views.

3D Map

Hike Mugu Peak Trail 3d Map
We’re going to hike in a clockwise lollipop loop. The view on this 3d map is accurate; it’s a tough climb directly from the coast.

Hike Brief

Chumash Village
Point Mugu and the valleys above it were originally Chumash lands. The Chumash would hunt and fish along the coast, and then bring it up to villages in the valleys behind Mugu Peak. Image Museum of Ventura County

Mugu Peak Hike Directions

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Video Directions

Turn by Turn Directions

Hike Mugu Peak Trail 4
Start at the unmarked trailhead at the end of the parking lot.
Hike Mugu Peak Trail 5
Right from the gun it’s a steep uphill. This is the Chumash Trail.
Hike Mugu Peak Trail 6
Avoid the small trails heading off the main trail. Keep heading uphill on the wide trail.
Hike Mugu Peak Trail 7
You’ll be able to see the trail winding up in front of you.
Hike Mugu Peak Trail 8
Take breaks and turn around to admire the view. In the distance are the Channel Islands of Anacapa and Santa Cruz (the big one).
Hike Mugu Peak Trail 9
There are some trail posts along the way, but they’re pretty random.
Hike Mugu Peak Trail 10
The trail is rocky and can be loose. Look for the sections that don’t have gravel, which is easier to ascend.
Hike Mugu Peak Trail 11
As you ascend you’ll start to see the saddle. We’re hiking to the saddle, and then up toward Mugu Peak on the right.
Hike Mugu Peak Trail 12
After about 0.3 miles the grade eases up for a second.
Hike Mugu Peak Trail 13
And you can see it get steeper again shortly.
Hike Mugu Peak Trail 14
Keep hiking up the steep section.
Hike Mugu Peak Trail 15
And when you get to the t-junction, make the hard left.
Hike Mugu Peak Trail 16
You’ll wind around to the saddle and see the trail going up the slope to the right.
Hike Mugu Peak Trail 17
The section ahead is steep.
Hike Mugu Peak Trail 18
Before you ascend you’ll get nice views of the La Jolla Valley and La Jolla Peak in the distance. The valley here was a popular place for Chumash settlements.
Hike Mugu Peak Trail 19
Okay, grind your teeth and head up the last real steep section.
Hike Mugu Peak Trail 20
Look behind you to see the Navy satellite tracking station on Laguna Peak, the westernmost peak in the Santa Monica Mountains.
Hike Mugu Peak Trail 21
And off to your right is the spectacular Boney Mountains range by Sandstone Peak. These are the tallest peaks in the Santa Monica Mountains.
Hike Mugu Peak Trail 22
One last little section of uphill to Mugu Peak.
Hike Mugu Peak Trail 23
And soon you’ll see the flag in the distance.
Hike Mugu Peak Trail 24
Here you are at Mugu Peak! The flag was placed here by the Chief Petty Officers Association after 9/11.
Hike Mugu Peak Trail 25
To the north is the Naval Air Station and Mugu Lagoon.
Hike Mugu Peak Trail 26
To the south is Sandy Dune, formed by the winds off the ocean blowing sand up the mountain.
Hike Mugu Peak Trail San Nicolas
And on a clear day you can see San Nicolas Island, the most remote of all the Channel Islands. It is the site inhabited by the famous “Lone Woman of San Nicolas Island” and now serves as a Navy munitions testing base. It was also a candidate for detonating the world’s first atomic bomb during the Manhattan Project (which ended up happening in New Mexico).
Hike Mugu Peak Trail 27
When you’re done at the summit, continue down the other side. you’ll see the trail unfold in front of you.
Hike Mugu Peak Trail 28
And if you look down, you’ll see the loop trail that you’ll return on.
Hike Mugu Peak Trail 29
When you see the large trail off to your right, make the turn.
Hike Mugu Peak Trail 30
Now you have a gentle descent down an old dirt road along the ridge. Enjoy the views.
Hike Mugu Peak Trail 31
The views of Santa Cruz Island are great from here.
Hike Mugu Peak Trail 32
You’ll round a bend and see the Chumash Trail that you came up on below.
Hike Mugu Peak Trail 33
When you get to the t-junction where you came up, make the left and continue downhill.
Hike Mugu Peak Trail 34
The downhill is steep so watch your step.
Hike Mugu Peak Trail 35
And in about 3 miles you’re back where you started!

This guide last updated on March 11, 2022. Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.

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