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.
In this Guide:
Video and Turn-by-Turn Directions to Hike Sandstone Peak
Sunrise is a great time to enjoy the colors of the rock and landscape.
Gear For the Hike
This is a backcountry hike and I recommend proper hiking gear here. I take at least 2L of water and hike in trail runners. Trekking poles will help on some of the steeper slopes at the peaks.
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Osprey Stratos and Sirrus 24 Daypack ( Amazon | Sirrus REI | Stratos REI ) Garmin Mini 2 Satellite Communicator ( Amazon | REI ) Black Diamond Distance Z Trekking Poles ( REI | Amazon ) As a hiking guide, I test lots of hiking gear. On my picks page, I'll show you all of the gear that I actually use. I don't accept paid promotions or talk about the stuff that doesn't make the cut. It's just the gear that works best, so you don't have to waste your money.
When you visit Sandstone Peak, you'll see a memorial to W. Herbert Allen. The Boy Scouts wanted to name the peak after Allen, but the USGS has a rule that you can't name a geographical feature after a living person. The memorial was created in 1969, and Allen passed in 1981.
Sandstone Peak, although brown, is not sandstone, but instead volcanic rock. At one point, millions of years ago, this area looked much like the Cascade Mountains in the Pacific Northwest, with 10,000 foot volcanoes. Erosion left us with what you see today, a 3111 foot peak.
Mishe-Mokwa is the mythical bear in the poem The Song of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The name came after the Boy Scouts started hiking there in the 1950s and 60s. Before that the Mishe Mokwa was the Bedsprings Trail.
Hi, I'm Cris Hazzard, aka Hiking Guy, a professional outdoors guide, hiking expert, and author based in Southern California. I created this website to share all the great hikes I do with everyone else out there. This site is different because it gives detailed directions that even the beginning hiker can follow. I also share what hiking gear works and doesn't so you don't waste money. I don't do sponsored or promoted content; I share only the gear recommendations, hikes, and tips that I would with my family and friends. If you like the website and YouTube channel, please support these free guides (I couldn't do it without folks like you!).