With a number of wonderful hiking trails available in and around the Malibu area, it can be difficult to narrow down which one to attempt. So that you don’t end up going off track, we have brought together a list of the 10 best hiking trails in Malibu for you to check out.
The 10 best hiking trails in Malibu are:
- Malibu Lake Vista Trail
- Solstice Canyon Loop
- Corral Canyon Loop Trail
- Los Liones
- Zuma Ridge Trail
- Escondido Falls
- Temescal Canyon
- Backbone Trail to Sandstone Peak
- Grotto Trail
- Rock Pool and Century Trail Lake
These hikes cover different terrain, but all are within the Malibu area. Also, expect trails of varying lengths and degrees of difficulty. However, it does mean there is something for everyone in our list.
The 10 Best Hiking Trails In Malibu
Length: 1.1 miles | Difficulty: Easy | Elevation gain: 302 ft
This trail is suitable for both hiking as well as horseback riding. It offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside while remaining easily accessible to most people.
The Malibu Lake Vista Trail only measures some 1.1 miles in total length, but it packs so much into such a short hike. Not only does it provide you with stunning views of Malibu Lake, but it’s also located in the Malibu Creek State Park.
The trail is relatively busy, which is partly due to the easy nature and its location, and the trail is also relatively clear and easy to follow. It does start off with asphalt before becoming rougher terrain, but the trail itself is still easy to follow throughout its length.
This trail is very accessible, and that is partly why it is proving to be so popular. The easiest way to access it is via the Reagan Ranch staging area right in the heart of the Malibu Creek State Park.
The trail itself is also open throughout the year, and there is a picnic area at the outermost reach of this out and back trail. You can expect it to be busy though, no matter when you venture out onto the trail.
Be aware that there is some undulation on this trail, but the overall elevation gain is not too severe at any point. Also, keep your eye out for both ticks and rattlesnakes. The rattlesnakes are known to enjoy sunning themselves on the trails at different points, so it’s important you pay attention to them!
Length: 3.2 miles | Difficulty: Moderate | Elevation gain: 797 ft
The Solstice Canyon Loop is a wonderful hike packed full of different features for you to explore along its duration. Popular for hiking, running, and the ability to explore nature, the Solstice Canyon Loop offers so much in just over 3 miles.
This loop trail is extremely popular with hikers, so don’t expect to have it all to yourself. The trail has a substantial amount of shade throughout the route, due to the Santa Monica mountains.
When it comes to the trail surface, you will find it quite rough, and that concerns the 3.2 miles of the entire loop. There is almost 800 ft of elevation gain, so there is some undulation to deal with. However, no single section will be capable of really testing you.
But the reason people tend to visit this trail is the waterfall, ruins of old buildings, and the stunning nature. The fact that the trail is relatively easy to complete just adds to its appeal.
Eventually, you will also come across views of the ocean, and they are a sight to behold. As hiking trails go in the Malibu area, this one is hard to beat with what it can offer in such a short distance.
For accessibility you should run into no problems with this trail. It’s open throughout the year, and there is a parking lot at the trailhead. The only issue is its popularity, so you may find that it is difficult to park if you venture out at peak times.
For this trail, you need to head to Corral Canyon Road. Once there, you will find a path that is relatively well-maintained throughout, and it is also quite clearly marked throughout the loop. Be aware that there are some additional trails that can spur off the main loop, so just double-check you are on the correct path to avoid any problems.
Ultimately, this path is for pretty much everyone as it is accessible to all. You can also take your dog with you as they are welcome, but keep them on a leash at all times.
Length: 2.3 miles | Difficulty: Moderate | Elevation gain: 531 ft
The Corral Canyon Loop Trail provides you with a wonderful opportunity to not only check out some stunning scenery, but also to indulge in some bird watching at the same time. You will want to try to complete the loop as the panoramic views are something to behold.
The trail itself is relatively short at 2.3 miles in length, but it does have over 500 ft in total elevation gain. That means it has sections capable of packing a bit of a punch, and that is why it is viewed as being of moderate difficulty.
At times the trail itself is rather narrow, and the underfoot conditions are rough. That means it’s important to have the correct footwear, and it may not be the best option if you have never been on a hiking trail before.
The trail is located in Corral Canyon Park, but be aware that there is very little in the way of shade throughout its duration. You might be best to avoid the middle of the day for this reason. As you park next to a restaurant, you have somewhere to refuel once you have completed the hike!
This trail is very accessible to all, and parking is not a problem thanks to it being located in the park. Also, it is widely viewed as being perhaps the most accessible hike in Malibu. The only problem is that it does increase in popularity in the spring and summer months.
Be aware that there is a fee attached to parking, and you share it with the Malibu Seafood restaurant. That can make parking tough during lunch times, so that’s another reason to perhaps consider checking out the trail at a different time.
However, if you do not want to pay the money, or if the parking lot is full, then additional parking is available relatively nearby on the Pacific Coast Highway, and this parking is also close to the trailhead.
When it comes to the trail’s difficulty level, it’s perhaps best for hikers with a little bit more experience. If you are unsure about your footing, this trail could be tough. You can take your dog with you, but you are required to keep them on their leash at all times.
Length: 4.4 miles | Difficulty: Moderate | Elevation gain: 1190 ft
The Los Liones out and back trail is one with a modest elevation gain, leading to it being viewed as moderately difficult to complete. However, any day hiker should not find this too difficult, even though the 4.4-mile distance means it may take a couple of hours to complete.
This particular trail can be found near Pacific Palisades, and you should know that the start of the trail is pretty steep, so expect to feel a bit of burn in your legs at this point. However, it will all be worth it when you manage to eventually work your way to the Parker Mesa Overlook.
But even though this trail is slightly tougher than most in the area, it still remains exceptionally popular. This can make it tough to enjoy the trail if you go at peak times, and this is made harder by the fact the trail can be narrow in places.
For this, we would certainly recommend going earlier in the day. It will still be quite busy, but you shouldn’t encounter too many problems on the trail. As you make your way along the trail, keep an eye out for the array of birds and wildflowers you will encounter in the area. Of course, there will also be the views, and the top provides you with the opportunity to look over downtown Los Angeles.
The best parking for this trail is street parking, but don’t worry about missing the trailhead as it’s pretty obviously marked with a gate. You will need to walk to Los Liones Drive, and then spot where you need to begin the hike.
However, even though street parking is the best option, be aware that the popularity of this trail does still put pressure on where you can park. There are picnic areas nearby with parking also available, so you shouldn’t find it too difficult to get a spot.
While the trail is accessible to all, it’s not the ideal starting hike thanks to how steep it is at the outset. This trail will test your legs, and while it does mean you get that burn over early on, it also requires some stamina to get through it.
That’s why this hike is best for people with some experience of tackling quite a steep incline. If you are looking for something nice and easy to complete, then check out some of the other hikes on our list instead, as this one would not be for you.
Length: 5.6 miles | Difficulty: Moderate | Elevation gain: 1473 ft
The Zuma Ridge Trail is an out and back trail that is very popular with hikers in the area, although it packs a punch and requires a reasonable amount of effort to complete. However, it also manages to provide you with some amazing experiences with nature, so it’s certainly well worth the effort!
The trail has to contend with a high number of people wanting to complete it, and that does mean the chances of having it to yourself will be low. Still, the trail is going to take you through the Zuma Canyon, and then offer you some stunning views of the ocean and river.
It starts off with a relatively wide service road which is quite well-maintained. However, the trail quickly narrows, but it remains easy to follow throughout its duration.
Eventually, the trail ends up on grassy slopes, but this is where its popularity helps since it still makes it easy for you to know the direction to head in. But be aware that this trail does have some shade and some spots where the wind can hit you quite hard. This means you will encounter a real change when it comes to both terrain and conditions over the course of the trail.
This trail is accessible throughout the entire year, and it remains just as stunning and amazing no matter the month. The easiest way to get to the trailhead is from the Zuma Canyon Trail, and there is parking available at the end of the Ridge Canyon Access Trail.
Be aware that, as it is so close to Malibu, finding parking can be tough during peak times. A water stop and picnic area is also available at the trailhead, so it gives you the opportunity to fill up before you head out into the wilderness.
Thanks to the climb in the middle of the trail, it may mean this trail is not suitable for individuals looking for something relatively flat. While it’s not the toughest of hikes, it will certainly test those not used to tackling inclines. For that reason, this trail is perhaps not too family friendly. It may be slightly too tough and too long for young children.
Length: 3.7 miles | Difficulty: Easy | Elevation gain: 626 ft
The Escondido Falls hike will lead you to some stunning scenery, and it’s all possible to check out without putting in too much effort.
The trail covers some 3.7 miles and is an out and back route that comes complete with an ample amount of shade throughout its duration. It has a total elevation gain of just over 600 feet, so that means you must work through some undulations.
Located in the Escondido Canyon Park, it is very popular among hikers in the area, so you will certainly encounter other hikers during your time here. The hike is relatively easy to complete, so it’s certainly a worthwhile option to consider if you are relatively new to hiking in general.
Of course, the main reason you might venture onto this trail is to encounter the waterfall, but there are ample bird-watching opportunities along the way too. While the scenery is good, it is the falls at the end that will make this all worth your while.
You will encounter two sections of the hike where ropes are in place to help due to the slightly unsteady underfoot conditions. They are not always required, but are there for your peace of mind.
There is some parking available at the trailhead in the park, but it does come with a fee. Also, the parking lot is very small, so there is a reasonable chance you might not get a space there. If that’s the case, then there is some free street parking available nearby, but even that can be tough at times.
Parking issues aside, the trail itself is open throughout the year, and you will encounter hikers of all ages. Be aware that the initial part of the hike involves going through a residential area. This is a bit different to the norm, but you will still be going in the correct direction even though it’s in an unusual spot.
Our other tip is to go on the hike after rain has fallen. The waterfall will look completely different compared to how it will be after a dry spell!
Length: 2.8 miles | Difficulty: Moderate | Elevation gain: 882 ft
Located near Pacific Palisades, this loop trail promises you so much in what is a relatively short hike to undertake. This hike is actually regarded as being one of the best in the area, but that does mean it can prove rather popular throughout the year.
The loop trail only measures some 2.8 miles in length, and there is a total elevation gain of just under 900 ft for you to deal with. However, we have one tip, and that is to consider walking the loop in a counterclockwise direction. It doesn’t make much difference in the actual hiking part, but you do have better views through the loop.
Be aware that the trail can be quite rough at times, and this is partly due to a lack of maintenance across the entire trail, but also thanks to its popularity.
Its popularity is also thanks to the stunning views this trail offers. It provides you with glimpses of not only Malibu itself, but also Santa Monica and over to downtown Los Angeles. You will always have something to look at on this trail, that’s for sure!
Parking is available at the trailhead, but there is a fee attached to it. The parking lot is quite small, so peak times for exploring the trail could make finding a spot quite difficult.
The actual trail can be hiked no matter the time of year. However, we recommend going on the trail after some heavy rain. It means you will encounter some small waterfalls throughout the loop that aren’t there during dry spells. Dogs are welcome on the trail, but must be kept on a leash. The trail is suitable for people of all ages and abilities.
Length: 3.2 miles | Difficulty: Hard | Elevation gain: 1030 ft
The Backbone Trail to Sandstone Peak is only a small part of a trail which actually covers some 67 miles in total. However, this section to Sandstone Peak promises some stunning views, and a bit of a test for your legs.
At 3.2 miles in length, this trail offers you some 1030 ft in elevation, so it does pack some inclines in across its relatively short length. Be aware that the trail itself is very rocky, and that means you need good hiking boots, and trekking poles would also be a good idea for most people.
This is an out and back trail culminating in you being atop Sandstone Peak. It promises some spectacular views, and there will be a substantial number of wildflowers to check out at the same time.
This is not a trail that is good for the entire family. It is only suitable for hikers with some experience, thanks to the rocky parts that make up so much of this particular trail. You should also know that you will have no opportunity to get any shade during the hike. It’s out in the open, so that may influence the time when you want to venture out.
Parking is readily available at the trailhead, and there is ample space available for most of the day. However, with there being no shade, it’s best to use this trail either early in the day or later in the evening when there is less direct sun.
The trail itself is open throughout the year, and there will be a steady stream of hikers looking to complete it and get to the top of Sandstone Peak. Do please keep in mind the less than favorable underfoot conditions at times, so this trail is not really accessible to anybody without the right gear.
Overall, this trail is easy to find and follow, but the tricky terrain is what makes it tougher and is the reason it is not necessarily accessible for every hiker.
Length: 2.5 miles | Difficulty: Hard | Elevation gain: 561 ft
The Grotto Trail is a popular trail in the Malibu area for experienced hikers only. With a lot to offer in terms of activities and views to take in, you will understand why it is so popular from the moment you set out on the trail.
The trail is only around 2.5 miles long, and there is a total elevation gain of 561 ft. However, most of the elevation gain is in short, steep bursts and it’s recommended you take trekking poles with you, as well as having the correct footwear.
This is an out and back trail that encompasses not only those tough inclines, but also some rocky sections underfoot as well. There will be some scrambling involved along the way, and the overall aim is to eventually reach the caves at the peak of the trail.
Next to the grotto area is a small pool and waterfall. You can go into the pool, though we would recommend waiting until a warm day as the water can be chilly, but you do need to climb over some impressive boulders to access it.
Overall, this trail is not for those starting out with hiking. There is too much in the way of rock-climbing and rough terrain for it to be a good route for people new to trails.
Parking is easy since this trail is at the Bruce Peninsula National Park. However, there is a parking fee included, and a reservation fee if you book a spot online. The good news is that there is ample space, and you won’t have to venture far to reach the trailhead. The trail is open throughout the year, so you can add this to your list of hikes no matter the month.
Even though it’s tough, the trail is popular. As the parking is so convenient it does encourage people to venture out and seek to challenge themselves, and this is one of the best routes of that kind in the Malibu area. However, it is most certainly not family-friendly, and is only for experienced hikers.
Length: 4.4 miles | Difficulty: Easy | Elevation gain: 331 ft
This trail is a wonderful one to explore, and at 4.4 miles long it gives you the chance to really stretch your legs and take in much of the surrounding nature. It even provides you with the opportunity to visit the old set for the TV show M.A.S.H.
This trail only has an elevation gain of just over 300 ft, so it does remain relatively flat throughout its duration. It is an out and back trail, and it is located close to Calabasas. Be aware that this trail is very popular no matter the time of year, and that is due to both how accessible it is and also the ease with which it can be completed.
This trail has everything from horse riding to hiking, running to rock climbing, and different sets to visit for the TV buffs out there! Of course, there is also the amazing scenery that surrounds you at every turn, and this is certainly a hike with something different to offer.
The entire trail will be suitable for people of all ages and abilities without the possibility of running into too many difficulties. There will also be ample shade available at different parts of the path, and the rock pool, with its volcanic walls, is an extraordinary sight.
This trail is so popular that getting parked may be tough. However, it’s worth persevering to make sure you can check out everything the trail has to offer.
You need to go to the Malibu Creek State Park to access the trail. Be aware that you will be required to pay a fee if you wish to park inside the State Park. However, there are other options outside the area, but it will involve a slightly longer walk to then get to the trailhead.
Aside from parking, the trail is accessible throughout the year, and it is something that anybody can complete with relative ease. If you plan on going on a nice, easy walk in Malibu that will take a few hours, then this might be the hiking trail for you.
Malibu has plenty of interesting hikes for you to check out, but the 10 listed above provide you with the opportunity to explore lots of different terrain in the area.With hikes of different lengths and degrees of difficulty, there is undoubtedly something on our list for everyone!