Best Hikes in Malibu

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Best Hikes in Malibu

Sure, there’s plenty of great beach in Malibu, but the water will feel even more refreshing after a heart-pumping hike. And there’s no shortage of treks in town. Drive up the Pacific Coast Highway, then pull over for hikes that lead to some of the most beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean. Beyond surfing and seafood, this idyllic setting between the ocean and the Santa Monica Mountains has surprised in store for those who set out to find them. Here are the best hikes in Malibu to get (or keep) your body beach-worthy.

Mugu Peak Trail

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It might be just a 2.7-mile loop – short enough for serious hikers to scoff at, perhaps – but don’t underestimate the glute-rrific workout you’re going to get. Climb up, up and up to Mugu Peak for 180-degree views of the Pacific from Point Mugu. This one is almost to Oxnard, so it’s less crowded than other trails.

Solstice Canyon Loop

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For a walk in the woods with a few of your closest friends (OK, maybe a few more than you may want), the Solstice Canyon Loop is admittedly popular, but makes up for it quickly. Start by walking to the mid-century-style Roberts House Ranch, destroyed by fire in 1982. Up the trail from here, you’ll see a beautiful waterfall, then start climbing switchbacks to the top of the hike from which you can stare down into the canyon.


Point Dume Cove Trail

Have an hour to burn? Spend in on the pretty Point Dume Cove Trail, easy enough for the whole family. Don’t expect to be alone on the trail, but do expect wildflowers and maybe even sea lions and whales in the distance. Check out the tidepools and stick around for a mesmerizing sunset.


Los Liones

You’ll find this out-and-back hike above Will Rogers State Park. From there, it heads into Topanga State Park, starting out steep, but then opening up. At the end, you can see Santa Monica to the left and Malibu to the right.


Backbone Trail to Sandstone Peak and Mishe Mokwa Trail

A perfect way to sneak in a workout before your beach day, this hike along a portion of the 70-mile Backbone Trail will make you break a sweat, but won’t do you in. Follow the switchbacks up to Sandstone Peak, an eye-catching and precarious rock formation, then continue to Inspiration Point. Follow the Mishe Mokwa Trail on the way back down, noticing the coastal sagebrush around you.

Zuma Canyon Loop Trail

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Swap beach day for hike day with this 10.7-mile loop (don’t worry, you’ll make it back for a California stunner of a sunset). Come prepared with a hat and sunscreen as there’s not much shade. Instead, you’ll rack up the great views and see plenty of local flora and fauna.


Rock Pool & Century Lake Trails

See a former M*A*S*H set about halfway through this hike in the mountains above Malibu. This 4.4-miler takes you into the backcountry, where you can swim at the Rock Pool and do a little climbing if the spirit moves you. There are quite a few twists and turns, so bring a GPS device with you.

Escondido Falls

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Plan about two hours for this easy 4-mile hike to Escondido Falls. You’ll pass through sage, chaparral and ancient oaks before arriving at the misty falls (they’re particularly full in the winter).


Temescal Canyon

Topanga State Park is worth a day of exploration on its own, but if you’re short on time, we suggest the Temescal Canyon trek. It’s a fairly quick loop, affording spectacular ocean views and Skull Rock, a favorite destination for natural history lovers. While the beginning of the hike can be congested, keep going for the best views.


Paseo Miramar

Join the locals in-the-know who hit this trail at sunrise. It’s a steep grinder, so you’ll get a great glute workout, all the way to the Parker Mesa Overlook. All told, it’s a 5.5-mile loop along well-maintained fire roads through the Pacific Palisades parkland.


Grotto Trail

Get a little bouldering in on this 3-mile roundtrip hike with 475 feet of elevation loss. Start at the Circle X Ranch Visitor Center in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area on the west side of Malibu. The rocky section at the end leads you to the caves.


Malibu Lake Vista Trail

There are several routes through Malibu Creek State Park leading to the top of the Lake Vista Trail. A couple of favorites: a 2.1-mile loop off Lake Vista Drive and a 4.1-mile out-and-back hike that beings down the Cistern Trail from Mulholland Highway. The loop trail is off the road that provides access to Paramount Ranch and starts at the historic Reagan Ranch staging area, once owned by the former president.


Ocean Overlook Loop Trail

For a family-friendly jaunt and some of the best Pacific Coast views in Malibu, take this trail within the 532-acre Charmlee Wilderness Park. While you’ll see evident of wildfires, there is regrowth happening, showing nature’s resiliency. Choose your own adventure on 8+ miles of other trails in the park. The overlook trail itself will only take about 15 minutes, so if you have younger, impatient hikers with you, the payoff is imminent.


Saddle Peak Trail

This underrated trail is set in the Santa Monica Mountains and takes, on average, 30 minutes to get to the top. Pass through thick woods, native Humboldt lilies, impressive rock formations, historic canyon roads and even famous estates tucked up in the hills. From here, you can see Cold Creek Canyon, Malibu Creek Canyon, Calabasas Peak and the Pacific Ocean – even Catalina Island and the Channel Islands on a clear day.


State Parks of Malibu

Use the suggestions above as a jumping-off point for choosing your own adventure in the Malibu area. There are numerous state parks to explore, with miles of trails for all ability levels, including Topanga State Park, Malibu Creek State Park, Solstice Canyon, Escondido Canyon Park and the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

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