One of the most well-known beach cities in the world, Malibu is located along the breathtaking Pacific coast of sunny Southern California. Malibu is all about glitz, sand, and sun; it is home to Hollywood’s who’s who, movie stars, and other famous people.
Those looking for luxury accommodations on Airbnb can find some of the best beach houses in the city. What are the best Malibu hiking trails? Continue reading for more information. Yet, Malibu offers a variety of other activities, so while you’re there, why not try something else and take one of these Malibu hikes with a waterfall view?
Falls may not be what you think, but you will undoubtedly discover these hidden locations to be breathtaking. Some of the city’s spectacular waterfalls are surrounded by high mountains, deep gorges, and a variety of plant and animal life. You may freely reach some of California’s best waterfalls via a network of paths in the state parks and mountains. While there are many waterfall treks accessible, picking the appropriate one for your fitness level, time constraints, accessibility, and so on. may be very challenging.
We’ve selected the top candidates for you so that this work will be easier. So put on your hiking boots and explore Malibu, California’s top waterfall hikes. Malibu occasionally has a sense of being the last place on Earth. The vast Pacific Ocean is on one side, and the Santa Monica Mountains separate it from civilization on the other.
Even Los Angeles natives travel to Malibu because of its world-famous surfers, seafood, and expensive real estate. Yet if you know where to go, Malibu offers more than just walking barefoot down the beach or zipping up the Pacific Coast Highway in a convertible.
In addition to leading up to some distinctive Mediterranean microclimates, the network of trails on the hills above offers some of the most stunning views of the limitless ocean.
1. Top 16 Malibu Hiking Trails
Malibu is a laid-back city where you can take pleasure in time spent in nature. In addition to hiking, this city offers a wide variety of other outdoor pursuits.
After your hike is over, you can relax at the beach or head to cafés or restaurants to eat delicious fresh seafood. The enjoyable things you can do on your day excursion include hiking in Malibu. Malibu is a laid-back city where you can take pleasure in time spent in nature. This city is unique because of its stunning and distinctive topographic location, where the mountains meet the sea.
The majority of the treks offer stunning views of the ocean. You’ll see the water in addition to the lush landscape. The hikes in Malibu range in difficulty from moderate treks to challenging climbs for experienced hikers. You can even design your course because some of the hikes are connected.
1.1. Point Dume Cove Trail
A well-liked hiking path may be found at Point Dume State Beach in Malibu, California. The 1.5-mile loop route provides breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and the nearby rocks.
The trailhead starts at the Point Dume State Beach parking area and takes hikers down a stairway to the ocean. Hikers can use the path to the right after leaving the beach to get to the bottom of the cliff, from whence they can start the ascent to the top of the Point Dume headland.
The trail can be steep and rocky at times, but the views from the top are worth the effort. Hikers can enjoy panoramic views of the ocean, the Santa Monica Mountains, and the surrounding coastline.
1.2. Mishe Mokwa Trail
Great if you’re searching for something that’s just the right amount of challenging without being too strenuous. Here, you can travel a tiny portion of the Backbone Trail, which extends for 70 miles along the Santa Monica mountains.
A switchback-heavy ascent to Sandstone Peak, a rock structure that appears perched precariously like a basketball on one of the Harlem Globetrotters’ fingertips, is the goal of the Backbone section of this trip. Continue climbing up to Inspiration Point, where on a clear day you can gaze west and see the Ocean. On the way down, take the Mishe Mokwa Trail, which will take you through a region abundant in Coastal Sagebrush.
1.3. Malibu Lake Vista Trail
A beautiful hiking trail called the Malibu Lake Vista Trail may be found in southern California’s Santa Monica Mountains. The 2.5-mile loop walk provides breathtaking views of Malibu Lake and the nearby mountains. The trailhead is located in the southernmost part of the Malibu Lake Club parking lot. The dirt trail that leads to panoramic views of the lake and the surrounding area winds through the mountainside from there.
The moderately challenging trek has some steep stretches and rocky terrain, but hikers are rewarded with breathtaking views when they reach the summit. Both locals and tourists enjoy taking hikes on the Malibu Lake Vista Trail. Throughout the walk, hikers can take in the sights of wildlife, birds, and wildflowers. The trail is accessible all year round, however, it is most pleasant to hike during the cooler months when the weather is cooler.
1.4. Corral Canyon Loop Trail
Between Dan Blocker Beach and Malibu Creek State Park, California’s gorgeous and undeveloped Corral Canyon Park is situated close to the Santa Monica Mountains.
The most popular tourist activity is to hike the circling trails and take in the beautiful views. Hikers will see undulating green hills, bright greenery, and sporadic trees everywhere they turn. Also, it links to the nearby Solstice Canyon Trail, which is approximately 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) away and has a tiny waterfall.
Lush grass and lovely wildflowers are typical, and numerous high hills, like Mesa Peak, offer stunning views of the California coast and the surrounding countryside.
1.5. Backbone Trail to Sandstone Peak and Mishe Mokwa Trail Loop
Hiking the Backbone Trail to Sandstone Peak and the Mishe Mokwa Trail Loop is a lovely, occasionally difficult, but worthwhile experience. Plan to hike for around 5.7 kilometers at a moderate pace generally, with some steep climbs and mild scrambling at the summit. It is a dog-friendly (on-leash) hiking trail despite being extremely exposed, so consider the heat before taking your dog.
Impressive sandstone formations, canyons, and breathtaking vistas from Inspiration Point and Sandstone Peak, Santa Monica’s highest peak, are some of this hike’s highlights. It is advised to take the clockwise path, which has a 1075-foot elevation increase, rather than the counterclockwise start on the Mishe Mokwa trail, which has a significantly longer ascent.
1.6. Solstice Canyon Trail
Hiking along a waterfall trail in Malibu is a lot of fun. Solstice Canyon trail in the Santa Monica Mountains is another wonderful location. Therefore, it is one of the best hikes in Malibu. This short, family-friendly 2-mile (3.2-kilometer) hiking trek ends in a 30-foot (9.1-meter) three-tiered waterfall and is appropriate for hikers of all fitness levels.
A fairly well-known climb that more than makes up for its lack of solitude with its scenery and microclimates. The Roberts House Ranch, a mid-century Malibu masterpiece designed by Paul R. Williams and destroyed in 1982, is where it all begins. There is a modest, yet lovely waterfall located above the home. Jump over the brook that feeds the waterfall and climb the mountain, following a dirt route that winds up and up through a series of switchbacks. At the summit, you can look down the canyon to a magnificent view of the Pacific.
Just close to the second group of ruins is a charming waterfall that also serves as a wonderful picnic location under the cover of the nearby boulders. The Solstice Canyon parking lot on Corral Canyon Drive in Malibu provides access to the Solstice Canyon trailhead. From then, the trail is essentially a paved, flat road.
1.7. Zuma Ridge Trail
Zuma Trail is a little less well-known than the bulk of other hikes in Malibu because it is a little more north of Los Angeles. You may work up a sweat and take in the coastal and mountain beauty in peace. Make sure to follow the path labeled “Zuma Ridge Trail” as you have two trail alternatives as you begin. Therefore, it is one of the best hikes in Malibu.
Around half a mile into the hike, there is a frequently overlooked viewpoint point with 180-degree views of the Pacific Ocean. Keep your eyes on the ground and look for the largely unobstructed path on the left-hand side of the trail to locate the unmarked way to the lookout.
1.8. Escondido Falls Trail
The Escondido Canyon trail is one of the most well-liked hiking paths in Malibu, winding past some of the poshest homes in the neighborhood and located in the Santa Monica Mountains. The 150-foot-tall (45-meter) Escondido Falls, which are divided into Lower and Upper Falls, are one of Southern California’s most magnificent waterfalls.
An accessible shaded trail with multiple brook crossings leads to the Lower Falls. The waterfall’s pouring beauty is enhanced by the fact that it conceals some caves that can be explored. Best Malibu hiking trails? Visitors are cautioned not to hike up to the Upper Falls because they are situated on private property.
This leisurely stroll in Malibu leads to a waterfall and meanders through chaparral, sage, and old oak trees. If there has been a significant amount of rain, the falls are a must-see in the winter, but even if it hasn’t rained in a while and the falls aren’t running, the four-mile hike is gorgeous. There is only one track, which makes navigation simple. Spend roughly two hours on a leisurely, beautiful walk at a steady, moderate pace.
Just off the renowned PCH (Pacific Coast Highway), you can enter the starting point of this Malibu trek with waterfalls. From there, you walk along the Winding Way until it widens into a broader, more natural canyon trail that leads to Lower Escondido Falls.
1.9. Temescal Canyon Trail
Temescal Canyon Trail is a 4-mile (6.4-kilometer) path near Los Angeles that can be reached from Malibu in under 26 minutes. It’s somewhat difficult and should take hikers two hours and fourteen minutes to accomplish. You will have plenty of time to unwind on your trip and take in the sights and sounds of nature as a result.
Moreover, it leads to Skull Rock, a geological structure with a fitting name that geology buffs should explore. The start of the trip can put you off if you’re the type of person who gets annoyed by people hiking in yoga pants and using their phones. But if you persevere, you’ll be rewarded richly with breathtaking views.
From the trail’s summit, the climb leads to a stunning vista over Santa Monica and downtown Los Angeles. Dogs are not permitted on the trail, so please be aware of that. At the top of the trail, hikers will reach a plateau where they can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and canyons. The plateau also offers a great spot for a picnic or to rest before making the return trip.
1.10. Grotto Trail
The Grotto Trail in Malibu is a well-known hiking route in Southern California. A 12-foot (3.6-meter) waterfall is the culmination of this lovely journey, which leads you through a stunning green canyon in the Santa Monica Mountains. Nevertheless, there is another main draw to this trip, a natural grotto formed entirely of stones that frames this lovely waterfall.
What are the best Malibu hiking trails? Although the Grotto Trail is not particularly challenging, the hike’s conclusion does involve some cautious boulder-hopping. Drive up Yerba Buena Road from the PCH to the Circle X Ranger Station to go to the Grotto Trail starting point.
After leaving your car parked here, proceed to the grotto by following the signs. From there, you can descend into the canyon and climb over stones to get to the waterfall and grotto. Moreover, the Grotto Trail has an uphill and a downhill portion. Thus, be sure you have the stamina to hike back up!
1.11. Los Liones Trail
This trek is for you if you’re seeking another fantastic hike close to Pacific Palisades with stunning views of Malibu and the Pacific Ocean. The trailhead is located at the end of Los Liones Drive in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood of Los Angeles. Best Malibu hiking trails? The trail is a 2.6-mile out-and-back hike with a total elevation gain of 1,100 feet. It is rated as moderate in difficulty and is suitable for hikers of all skill levels.
The trail is rather steep for the first several miles of this several-hour out-and-back climb before it flattens out near the summit, where there is a stunning vista of the Pacific. Spend a few minutes relaxing on the seat that has a view of Malibu to the right and Santa Monica to the left. There isn’t much shade, so bring sunscreen, but leave your dog at home.
The hike starts as you ascend along shady, tree-lined pathways. Almost a mile into the journey, you will reach a bench with 180-degree views of the Pacific Ocean. A nice location for relaxation and hydration. From here, you can view a significant portion of the Pacific Coast Highway and Malibu, however, this is not the end of the hike.
1.12. Rock Pool & Century Lake Trails
There are many hikes in the Malibu mountains, but this 4.4-mile excursion is perfect for an ambitious hiker who wants to reconnect with nature without packing the Vehicle for a weekend in the backcountry. The former M*A*S*H set is close to the 2.5-mile marker; don’t miss it.
Additionally, don’t make a quick U-turn. You won’t be able to swim in the Rock Pool, which also has some good climbing holds (the Rock Pool was also a location in the 1968 Planet of the Apes film). There are a few twists to make on this trek, so we advise obtaining GPS track points to prevent extending your route time beyond what you’d want.
1.13. Santa Ynez Waterfall
At Topanga State Park near Malibu, the Santa Ynez Waterfall is located after the Santa Ynez Trail. For the most part, this walk is quite simple for hikers of all skill levels, but during the wet season, there may be some challenging bouldering near the waterfall. Although it is often a route with little traffic, weekends may be congested because of how well-liked it is by families.
The round-trip duration of the hike, which is roughly 2.5 miles (4 km) long, could be one hour and fifteen minutes. Palisades Drive, which lies off the PCH, provides access to the trailhead. What are the best Malibu hiking trails? Park at the side of the housing neighborhood street and begin walking descending until you approach the sign for Santa Ynez Canyon Trail in Topanga State Park.
1.14. Mugu Peak Trail
In Point Mugu State Park, which is close to the city of Malibu in California, there is a beautiful hiking track called the Mugu Peak Trail. The walk, which is about 6 miles roundtrip, provides sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean and the mountains in the area.
The trailhead starts at the park’s western edge, close to PCH and Pacific Coast Highway. Hikers of all ability levels can enjoy the fairly challenging trail, which has some steep sections and rocky terrain.
Hikers are rewarded with beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean and the surrounding mountains as they progress higher on the trail. The Channel Islands, the Santa Monica Mountains, and the entire coastline can all be seen from Mugu Peak’s summit.
2. Tips for Hiking in Malibu
Here are some suggestions for making the most of Malibu’s excellent hiking trails:
2.1. Be Aware of the Trail’s Difficulty:
The difficulty of the Malibu ranges’ hiking trails. Choose a trail that is acceptable for your level of fitness by taking into account the complexity of the one you wish to hike.
2.2. Dress Appropriately:
Bring plenty of water, a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and hiking-appropriate clothing and shoes. Bring clothing in case the weather changes fast because temperature swings are possible.
2.3. Bring a Map and a Phone:
It’s a good idea to bring a map and a fully charged phone even if you are familiar with the trail in case you need to contact authorities for assistance.
2.4. Hike With a Buddy:
It’s safer and more enjoyable to hike with a friend. Be sure someone is aware of your plans and anticipated return time if you trek alone.
2.5. Respect Private Property:
In Malibu, certain hiking trails could go across private land. Stay on the marked trail and respect the rights of the property owner.
The beauty of nature will always hold a special place in the hearts of hikers. Some people can think that a mountain or forest has no impact after seeing them just once. Nonetheless, the majority of people who take the time to set out on an amazing hiking adventure would tell you that appreciating nature’s magnificence is a unique experience. Malibu, a location as developed and populous as Malibu, nevertheless has amazing hikes that are simply remarkable.
Think twice before making the next trip to the Himalayas or south to the wonderful Inca trails because there are numerous options much closer to home! You may experience the wealth of unspoiled natural beauty that is just outside your door on the best walks in Malibu.
However, some of the best hiking routes in the country can be found in Malibu, a beautiful seaside community. Although this well-known Californian city may be most known for its long expanses of beaches, there are some hidden Malibu hiking paths that are perfect for discovering.
But it’s crucial to plan by learning how difficult the trail will be, dressing adequately, packing enough water, and adhering to the Leave No Trace guidelines. To conserve the delicate ecology, it’s also crucial to respect wildlife and stick to approved pathways. You can enjoy a safe and rewarding hiking experience while taking in Malibu’s breathtaking views and natural wonders by paying attention to the advice provided here.