Hiker at Topanga State Park

5 Scenic Hikes in Malibu

Tucked between mountain ridges and Pacific vistas, Malibu is recreation lover’s paradise. So it’s no surprise that, like the ‘Bu’s beaches, the area’s hiking trails are destinations in their own right.

From heart-pounding hikes to mountain strolls that are as leisurely as they are magnificent, Malibu holds something for everyone. So, grab the sunscreen and a jug of water and head out to some of Southern California’s finest trailheads. They’re short escapes into nature from the comforts of Malibu Beach Inn.

Tuna Canyon

A view of the Pacific Ocean from the top of Tuna Canyon

Photo: Shawn Hinsey via Flickr CC / BY  

For a network of hikes that are both beautiful and easy to navigate for all ages and abilities, visit the Tuna Canyon Trails near Topanga. The wide, maintained pathways are devoid of treacherous rocks, friendly to leashed dogs, and lined with intermittent scatterings of large trees — perfect for shaded family picnics.

Throughout the trail and from the natural stone maze at the top, hikers can savor views of the Santa Monica and Malibu piers greeting the ocean to the west, the Malibu Lagoon to the south, and the shimmering Los Angeles metropolis down to the east.

Paramount Ranch

An old cabin at Paramount Ranch near Malibu, California

Photo: National Park Service via Flickr CC / BY 

The legendary Paramount Ranch is another family-friendly hiking hub. Just east of Malibu in Agoura Hills, Paramount Ranch has been the filming location for hundreds of movies and TV shows since it was established in 1927. Park in the ranch lot and cross Medea Creek to enter a replica town of the Wild West, made famous by many recognizable Hollywood ventures.

Stemming from the Western town are a plethora of undaunting trails that allow hikers to explore the old filming grounds in its vicinity. A gateway to the surrounding Santa Monica Mountains, the trails here are not only alluringly charming, but their subtle elevation changes make them remarkably accessible to hikers of all skill levels, too.

Malibu Creek State Park

MASH site at Malibu State Creek Park

Photo: Trycatch via Wikimedia Commons CC / BY 

Just southwest of Paramount Ranch sprawls another Santa Monica Mountain gem. Boasting over 8,000 protected acres, most of them donated by the late Bob Hope, Malibu Creek State Park offers miles upon miles of scenic hiking trails waiting to be explored on foot. At its entrance (four miles south of Highway 101 where Malibu Canyon road meets Mullholland Drive), the park offers prorated day parking for visitors who wish to delve into one of the many wilderness areas beyond its gates.

Scattered throughout Malibu Creek State Park’s circuits are several restored cinematic sites (think Planet of the Apes and M*A*S*H*), which once used the park’s natural splendor as the backdrop for their enduring stories.

And of course, there’s plenty of natural beauty to explore, too. Some trails offer spectacular volcanic rock gorges and stunning views of the Las Virgenes Valley and Malibu Canyon, and especially on warm summer days, hikers may opt to ascend the trail along Malibu Creek until they reach the Rock Pool for a cool dip.

Backbone Trail

A hiker on Backbone Trail near Malibu, California

Photo: National Park Service via Flickr CC / BY 

For a more challenging trek that’s widely acclaimed as one of the best hikes in the LA area, traverse up the Backbone Trail to Sandstone Peak, a six-mile “out-and-back” route lined with coastal sage shrub, over 26 species of California wildflowers, and native birds. After parking near Yerba Bueno Road along the Pacific Coast Highway, hikers weave through picturesque canyons and pass striking rock formations before clambering up the trail’s rocky ascent.

Upon summiting Sandstone Peak (the highest point in LA County), hikers are rewarded for their efforts with breathtaking panoramas of the surrounding canyons, mountain lakes, and the Pacific Ocean. After soaking in the views, which may be complimented by springtime hatchings of Painted Lady butterflies, descend back to Yerba Bueno Road to treat yourself at Neptune’s Net with cold refreshments and fresh over-the-counter seafood.

Los Liones Trail

Los Liones Trail Parker Mesa Overlook

Photo: Eric Chan via Flickr CC / BY

South of Malibu near Pacific Palisades, Los Liones Trail rambles up a lush valley tucked into Topanga Canyon State Park. Dispersed along its gradual ascent are multiple outlooks to stop, rest, and appreciate sweeping vantages of the ocean and Santa Monica.

At the top of Los Liones Trail, hikers will meet a junction of fire roads and have the option of turning back or pressing on for a somewhat-difficult summit to Parker Mesa Outlook. For those who reach it, clear days afford incredible inland views of the snowcapped San Bernardino Mountains behind LA, and Santa Monica Bay to the west.

 

Featured Photo: Eric Chan via Flickr CC / BY

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