With its dramatic cliffs along the Pacific shoreline, Malibu boasts some of California’s most stunning terrain — perfect for a day of hiking. Whether you’re into mountain views, wildflowers, canyons or coastal trails, Malibu has a hike for you.
1. Solstice Canyon Loop
Nestled in the Santa Monica Mountains, Solstice Canyon Loop is one of Malibu’s most beloved trails, popular for its varied terrain and easy 2.6-mile loop. Sights include the remains of the mid-century Roberts Ranch house, the historic Keller stone hunting cabin, shaded canyon views, the Solstice waterfall and nearby brook, and the Pacific as the grand finale. Wildlife buffs might also see a variety of bird species like acorn woodpeckers and red-tailed hawks.
2. Escondido Falls Trail
Escondido Falls Trail is an easy, dog-friendly, 3.8-mile round-trip hike leading to a scenic waterfall surrounded by old growth trees. The falls are at their peak during the earlier months in the year or following autumn rains, but this comfortable trek is beautiful year-round. The hike begins near the Pacific Coast Highway and follows a single path through wildflower fields, sage and across small streams. From there, you can opt for an easier route to the lower level of the falls, which is 50 feet high. The top tier boasts unbeatable views and access behind the waterfall, your reward for climbing 150 feet of steep rock. This is a popular trail, so you’re likely to be sharing the path with fellow hikers. Parking is available for $8 at the Winding Way Parking Lot.
3. Mugu Peak Trail
Located in Point Mugu State Park, the Mugu Peak Trail is about 6.5 miles with an elevation gain of 1,225 feet. It’s an all-season hike that’s especially beautiful in the spring. The Santa Monica Mountains are the star of the Mugu Peak Trail, which winds all the way to the Pacific through Ventura County. Much of the landscape you’ll see on this hike will be distinctly Californian: scrubby coastal grasses, yucca, cactus, meadows full of wildflowers (especially in the spring), distant canyon ridges and the ocean. Mugu Peak is marked with an American flag and offers sweeping 360-degree views — perfect for a quick snack and rest before heading back down.
4. Backbone Trail to Sandstone Peak and Mishe Mokwa Trail
Get ready to break a sweat, because this hike is a challenge! The Backbone Trail is actually quite long — 70 miles total — but this offshoot combines two smaller hikes. Along the Backbone Trail portion, you’ll feel the burn along numerous switchbacks up to Sandstone Peak. Inspiration Point is a highlight, looking out to the ocean. You’ll likely spot climbers on Echo Cliffs along your trek, too, since the cliffs are a favorite hangout for seasoned climbers looking to master one of its 200 routes.
5. Point Dume Cove Trail
If surfside is more your style, you’ll love this laidback hike. Maxing out at 1.4 miles, the Point Dume Cove trail is great for all skill levels and features stunning views of Santa Monica Bay. This is a heavily trafficked trail since it’s so accessible, but you do have the added benefit of heading down to the shore once you wrap up. At the cove, be sure to take a peek at the tide pools! If you’re especially lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of seals sunning themselves or whales out in the bay.
6. Zuma Ridge Trail
At 5.4 miles round-trip, the Zuma Ridge Trail is popular but less heavily trafficked than most other hikes on our list — at least by people. Horses are a common sight on this trail, which offers views of the ocean and mountains. A creek will keep you company along the way, along with a number of trees with foliage that changes with the seasons. Zuma Canyon has an entire system of trails managed by the National Park Service, so it’s easy to shorten your hike or extend it up to a full 10 miles.
7. Paseo Miramar
Just off the west side of the Pacific Palisades, you’ll find local favorite Paseo Miramar. A steady upward climb makes for a true workout, and at the top, you’ll find unencumbered views of the coast. The Parker Mesa Overlook is especially pretty in the early morning or late afternoon. One thing to keep in mind: There is no weekend parking at this popular spot, but there is street parking nearby that can add to your total distance.
Explore Malibu from your second home
Malibu has so much to offer, and if you own a second home with Pacaso, you won’t miss a minute. Maintenance and management is all taken care of, so as soon as you arrive, you can lace up your hiking boots and hit the trails.
Can’t-miss road trip stops between San Diego and Santa Barbara