Best hiking trails in Malibu

10 Best Hiking Trails in Malibu

Malibu is certainly one of the most famous destinations of California as well as the whole world.

It is famous for its picturesque and romantic locations, excellent beaches, museums & art galleries, luxurious golf courses, and most importantly, its most beautiful hiking trails.

The popular hiking trail starts from the Pacific Ocean and leads you to the Malibu Canyon, which has amazing views of the ocean and the sandy cliffs.  

Malibu has long been a favorite place for tourists, and many hiking clubs have been established in the area. You can make the most of your California vacation with a Malibu CA hiking tour.

Hiking in the Malibu Canyon is one of the greatest joys of hiking. It is one of the best-kept secrets of California outdoor sports.

There are several hiking trails in the Malibu National Forests. This article contains information on some of the best hiking trails in Malibu, California.


Malibu Hiking Trails

Malibu

Malibu is a beautiful city in California. It’s known for its rich and lavish lifestyle, but it also has many outdoor activities to offer as well.

One such activity that offers some of the most scenic views around is hiking! Whether you’re looking to explore somewhere new or need an escape from your everyday life, Malibu has so many trails to offer.

If you’re in the mood for a day of exploring and hiking, Malibu is a top spot to go!

There are so many different paths that it’s hard to choose which ones will work best.

However, we’ve put together this list of the ten best hiking trails in Malibu. Happy trails!


Topanga Lookout Trail

Topanga Lookout Trail

Fast Facts

  • Trail Features – Views · Mountain
  • Trail Location – Topanga Canyon
  • Distance – 3.4 Miles, Out and back
  • Elevation gain – 730 Feet
  • Time – 2-3 hours
  • Difficulty – Moderate
  • Open to – Hikers, dogs

This is a popular trail that starts on the north side of Topanga State Park. The trail will take you up to an old fire lookout tower, which can sometimes be rented for private events and weddings!

It’s only about three and a half miles round trip with minimal elevation gain, making it one of the easier hikes around. You’ll be rewarded with a beautiful view!

Topanga Lookout Trail is a great place to do hiking & biking, picnics, sea kayaking, or any other outdoor activities you could imagine.

The trail also includes three lookout stations for hikers and restrooms and concession stands for visitors.

This unique attraction is one of the most popular destinations in Northern California and offers panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean.

It is also located near the famous Placerville State Park, a great attraction within its right.

The Topanga Lookout Trail makes an excellent starting point for any traveling through Northern California.

It is also easily accessible from major highways such as Highway 99, Highway 24, and 32.

The Topanga Lookout Trail is open year-round, and there are never any “off-season” snowfalls where you can enjoy your stay in Topanga.

This is truly a unique experience, whether you hike or bike through this amazing park!


Solstice Canyon Loop

Solstice Canyon

Fast Facts

  • Trail Features – Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife
  • Trail Location – Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area
  • Distance – 2.9 Miles, Loop
  • Elevation gain – 670 Feet
  • Time – 3 hours
  • Difficulty – Moderate
  • Open to – Hikers, dogs

The Solstice Canyon Loop is not recommended for people with weak knees and ankles as it includes a steep ascent.

It’s also pretty difficult to get lost on this trail, so if you have wanted to hike in Malibu, then we recommend giving this one a try!

The loop takes about three hours to complete, which leaves plenty of time for a picnic lunch or maybe just some time to enjoy the scenery.

William Mulholland originally constructed the solstice Canyon Trail as part of his water delivery system from the Sierra Nevada Mountains to Los Angeles during 1907-1913.

This trail showcases nature at its best with lush vegetation, rolling hillsides, deep canyons, scattered boulders, and huge old oak trees that tower above.

The trail is about three miles long. The hike will take you from the canyon floor to an elevation of 600 feet, with beautiful views all along the way.

The trail’s moderate difficulty makes it an excellent hike for those who want a little more exercise.

There are some steep sections, so if you’re not in the best shape or carrying heavy gear like camping supplies, be sure to take your time and use caution! You can also “take water breaks” at any of the numerous creek crossings.


Malibu Creek Trail

Malibu Creek Trail

Fast Facts

  • Trail Features – Outstanding Views · Lake · Wildlife
  • Trail Location – Malibu Creek State Park
  • Distance – 6.5 Miles, Out and back
  • Elevation gain – 400 Feet
  • Time – 2-3 hours
  • Difficulty – Moderate
  • Open to – Hikers

If you’re looking for an intensive hike that will help burn off all that Thanksgiving turkey, this trail is perfect. You’ll be up in elevation and see a lot of different landscapes, including some redwoods.

The Malibu Creek Trail is a great place to start for beginners. The trail winds through the Santa Monica Mountains, with plenty of streams and waterfalls along the way.

This hike will take you about a three-mile round trip or six miles out-and-back from Vincent Gap parking lot on Highway 39 in Agoura Hills.

The trail begins at Malibu Creek State Park. From there, follow signs for “the backcountry” until you come across a “trailhead” with parking. From the trailhead, it is about a one-mile hike to Rattlesnake Creek.

The first mile of this trail follows along Malibu Creek before crossing over for the final section that finishes at Rattlesnake Canyon and Cliffside Park (another great spot for photos).

At the end of this hike, you will find yourself at a great viewpoint from which to admire the vast expanse of Los Angeles and Ventura Counties. You might even see forest fires in the distance!


Point Dume Cove Trail

Point Dume Cove Trail

Fast Facts

  • Trail Features – Beautiful Views · Wild Flowers · Wildlife
  • Trail Location – Point Dume State Beach
  • Distance – 1.4 Miles, Out and back
  • Elevation gain – 340 Feet
  • Time – 3-4 hours
  • Difficulty – Easy
  • Open to – Hikers

Point Dume Cove Trail is located in the Malibu coastline of Los Angeles, California. The place is an escape route from the hustle and bustle of everyday life in downtown Los Angeles.

Point Dume stands on the south coast of Malibu. It is a high bluff on the seaside of Point Dume.

To get to the trailhead, it is essential to cross a wooden bridge across a small creek. The beach here is quite busy with tourists all year round.

If you are the sort of person who does not mind crowds, this beach is for you. The beach here offers a nice stretch of white sandy beach with clear blue water.

For a change of pace, you can stay at Point Dume Cove while enjoying the gorgeous views of the ocean.

The cove has lots of restaurants, hotels, and gift shops. The hotels are located near the beachfront. In addition, there is a bus stop nearby hike.

To get back to the beach, turn left and walk the remaining trail to the beach.

You will find bathrooms here and a snack bar along the way. This beach is a great getaway spot for a weekend camping trip.


Malibu Bluffs Trail

Malibu Bluffs Trail

Fast Facts

  • Trail Features – Scenic Views · Nature
  • Trail Location – Malibu Bluff State Recreation Area
  • Distance – 1.6 Miles, Out and back
  • Elevation gain – 155 Feet
  • Time – 2 hours
  • Difficulty – Easy
  • Open to – Hikers, dogs on lease

Malibu Bluffs Trail is a great trail for those who are looking to have an easy, short hike. It’s only a mile or so to get up in elevation with views of the Pacific Ocean that are unparalleled.

The walk along the coast leads you through different coastal vegetation types and can take anywhere from 20-45 minutes.

There’s plenty of views of the ocean as well as some high cliffs that offer scenic overlooks if you go right to the end of the trail.

Keep in mind that Malibu Bluffs Trail is not for those with a fear of heights, so if you’re at all nervous about going too high up and don’t want to risk it, then this might not be the best hike for you.

Malibu Bluffs Park is also home to A-frame Log Cabin, built in 1929 by Rudy Valentino for his wife, actress Natacha Rambova.

The cabin is now used as a function hall and can be rented at an hourly rate with catering services included.

Malibu Bluffs Park has plenty of parking spaces available on the side, or you could also find street parking if it’s not too crowded.


Escondido Falls Trail

Escondido Falls

Fast Facts

  • Trail Features – Waterfall · Wildlife · Forest
  • Trail Location – Escondido Canyon Park
  • Distance – 3.7 Miles, Out and back
  • Elevation gain – 650 Feet
  • Time – 2 hours
  • Difficulty – Easy
  • Open to – Hikers, dogs, Bikes

Escondido Falls is a great hiking destination, with waterfalls, gorgeous cliffs, and lush vegetation surrounding the falls.

If you’re looking for a trail that’s short, scenic, and easy to find- Escondido Falls Trail is the one! You can access this nearby hike via Piuma Road.

The falls are about 50 feet high here, with an average flow rate of 50 cubic feet per second.

The waterfall is easily accessible by a small set of stairs that allow you to get up close and personal with the falls.

The trail is not too long, but it’s still great for anyone who wants to spend an afternoon in nature.

The trailhead for this hike is at the Malibu Creek State Park.

It’s about a three-mile round trip that takes you through some of California’s most beautiful views and diverse ecosystems, including oak woodlands, chaparral, coastal sage scrubland, and riparian zones. Keep an eye out for wildflowers, deer, and hawks.

This short loop will take about two-hour walking time roundtrip, so don’t forget your water!


Zuma Ridge Trail

Zuma Ridge Trail

Fast Facts

  • Trail Features – Views · River
  • Trail Location – Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area
  • Distance – 5.5 Miles, Out and back
  • Elevation gain – 1470 Feet
  • Time – 2-3 hours
  • Difficulty – Moderate
  • Open to – Hikers, dogs, bikes

One of the most popular trails on this list is the Zuma Ridge Trail, which is a strenuous hike that will take you to one of Malibu’s more remote areas.

This rugged path has some steep sections and can be exposed in places, so it’s not for someone looking for an easy walk.

It offers many scenic views of the mountains and the ocean and some of the most dramatic coastal cliffs in Malibu.

This hike can be challenging but has spectacular views at the top.
The trail starts at Zuma Beach County Park on PCH, and it’s best to start early so you can spend a few hours exploring its various sections before returning to your car after sunset.

The trail is not for someone looking for an easy walk, given the steep sections and exposure to the sun.

However, it offers scenic views of mountains and the ocean and dramatic coastal cliffs in Malibu.


Grotto Trail

Grotto Trail

Fast Facts

  • Trail Features – Incredible Views · Wild Flowers
  • Trail Location – Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area
  • Distance – 2.4 Miles, Out and back
  • Elevation gain – 570 Feet
  • Time – 2 hours
  • Difficulty – Moderate
  • Open to – Hikers, dogs on leash

This hike might be a little more difficult than most on our list, but it’s so worth it when you get to see the stunning waterfall at the end!

You’ll need some hiking shoes, but the view is worth it.

It starts by hiking along a rocky trail then Proceeds through the trees and onto the floodplain.

This trail has several waterfalls, including the famous Angel’s Waterfalls, Creede River Falls, and the Mirror Fall.

There are other activities in this part of the park, but most of the activities take place around the waterfalls.

The trail itself also offers beautiful views of the city and surrounding areas. Other than waterfalls, this trail has other great features, such as rock gardens, staircases, cliffs, and other activities.

If you prefer to stay closer to the water, you can even walk to them. This will give you a great view of the surrounding area, and it is a bit safer.

But if you want to stay away from the water, then some paths take you right into the center of town, where there are many dining options, shopping centers, and other activities.

However, if you choose to go to the waterfalls and spend your time gazing at them from a more distant location, then you can always find ways to do that as well.

After getting to the waterfalls, you can then follow the trail back towards the parking lot. The hardest part of the entire hike is the return trip.

The waterfalls are beautiful and quiet, and when you get tired, it is nice to sit down and enjoy the view without disturbing anyone.


Tuna Canyon Trail

Tuna Canyon Trail

Fast Facts

  • Trail Features – Beautiful View · Mountain
  • Trail Location – Tuna Canyon Park
  • Distance – 3.7 Miles, Out and back
  • Elevation gain – 630 Feet
  • Time – 1-2 hours
  • Difficulty – Moderate
  • Open to – Hikers, dogs, bikes

Tuna Canyon Trail can be found off of Pacific Coast Highway near Point Mugu.

It is a popular hike with many different trails and loops to explore, offering anything from an easy half-mile loop to a more strenuous five-plus mile loop with steep hillsides.

Some of the best views are on this trail, which is popular in the autumn, winter, and spring.

It is a difficult hiker’s trail to travel through. Despite this, many do take the adventure to see what all the hype is about.

So, if you are a hiker who wants to experience a challenging trail without difficulty, you can do so with a Tuna Canyon Hike in California.

This particular attraction is interesting because the trail follows a path that parallels the famous Tule springs, which provides a beautiful sight for those who stop to take a look.

Other interesting activities offered along the trail include photography, nature watching, and climbing the rope.

If you have never hiked on this particular trail before, you may want to prepare yourself by learning about the typical conditions before venturing out there. This will help to ensure your safety.


Malibu Lake Vista Trail 

Malibu Lake Vista Trail

Fast Facts

  • Trail Features – Lake View · Mountain
  • Trail Location – Agoura Hills
  • Distance – 4.1 Miles, Out and back
  • Elevation gain – 300 Feet
  • Time – 2 hours
  • Difficulty – Moderate
  • Open to – Hikers

Located in the Malibu Creek State Park, this is an easy hike with a pleasant view of Lake Vista.

The park offers the visitors a barbecue lunch near the lakeside, and they enjoy fishing on their way back home.

There’s also a water fountain, so it is perfect for hikers who want to take a break.

The distance of this hike is about four miles long, and the elevation gain is less than 500 feet.

This trail offers many scenic viewpoints, including Lake Vista, Lower Malibu Falls, Upper Malibu Falls, and Boulder Oaks Nature Area.

Malibu Lake Vista Trail is a great way to see some of the best sights in Malibu and enjoy hiking for eight hours or less.

The park is open from sunrise till sunset every day except Christmas and New Year’s Eve.


Suggested Packing List


  1. Water
  2. Snacks/food (lunch and snacks)
  3. A map of the area
  4. A compass, and the knowledge of how to use it
  5. Extra clothing like rain gear or warm clothes depending on your destination’s climate
  6. First aid kit with bandages and tools for treating blisters, cuts, burns etc.

Additional Resources


  1. Malibu Creek Park Website
  2. Malibu Reservation
  3. Malibu Trails Current Conditions

FAQ


Q. Are dogs allowed at Solstice Canyon?

Solstice Canyon is a dog-friendly place to hike, and so are all the trails on this list. So if you have a furry friend that loves getting some fresh air, then they can come along for the ride!

Q. How much does Point Dume cost?

The cost to enter Point Dume for both adults and children ranges from $20 -$25 per car, depending on the day of the week you visit.

Q. How long is the Tuna Canyon hike?

The Tuna Canyon hike is about two miles and has a moderate difficulty level. It’s one of the most popular trails in Malibu for hiking, so make sure to get there early as it can be hard to find parking!

Q. How long does it take to hike Escondido Falls?

Escondido Falls is a two-mile round trip hike that takes about one hour.

Q. Can you drive Topanga lookout?

Yes, you can drive up to the top of Topanga lookout. It is a dirt road that begins at Chantry Flats and continues for about six miles up into the mountains.


Conclusion

Hiking in Malibu is a great way to enjoy this beautiful area. We have compiled 7 of the best hiking trails for you above, but there are many more that we didn’t touch on, so be sure to explore your options! If you find yourself with some time and want an enjoyable experience, why not try one out?

And if this blog post has been helpful, please let us know by leaving a comment below or sharing it with others who may need advice about their next hike in Malibu. Happy Trails!


What do you think are the best hiking trails in Malibu, California. Let us know in the comment section below