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Best Hiking Trails In Malibu For Awesome Views

Malibu is a gem in Southern California.

The hot weather, rolling oceans, and sparkling beaches make it a no-brainer destination for any lover of fun in the sun. 

The beaches of Malibu are spectacular, but there’s plenty of fun to be had inland as well.

Malibu has hills filled with dreamy vistas and seafront lookouts for hikers of all abilities. 

If you’re wondering which Malibu hiking trails are the best for you, read our list below and find a comprehensive guide to hiking in Malibu, California. 

8 Best Hiking Trails in Malibu, California

We put together a list of different categories to pick the best trail for your preference/skill level. 

Best All-Around Trail in Malibu: Westside of Boney

  • Distance: 1,846 m
  • Ascension: 21 m
  • Popularity: High 

Hikes that are mildly difficult and short in duration are perfect for half-day excursions.

The incline is steep enough so that you can feel exercised while the time you spend here won’t take a big bite out of your day. 

The Westside of Boney Trail is on Boney Mountain, a small mountain outside of Santa Monica.

This trail is just one part of a route that takes around 4.5 hours.

If you want to take the longer hike, you will start in Santa Monica then work your way out to Malibu. 

You’ll see the classic barren trees, rolling bushes, and hills of sand and dirt that embody the image of Southern California on the hike.

During one part of the hike, you will walk along a narrow dirt path that takes you along Boney Mountain’s edge.

At the top, you will reach Sandstone Peak, 948 m high. 

corral canyon trail malibu scenic ocean view

Best Ocean View Hike in Malibu: Corral Canyon

  • Distance: 2,351 m
  • Ascension: 46 m
  • Popularity: Average

This short trail begins on highway CA 1 and is the best way to get ocean views fast (see the scenic view in the image at the top of this article).

You can head north up the Pacific from Malibu and reach the trail in under a half-hour. 

The road travels along the coastline, so you’ll have splendid ocean views the whole trip.

When CA1 meets Malibu Road, you’ll know you’re close. 

 You’ll climb up a twisty path with some dry California grass and shrubs passing by you.

Like most hiking trails, the terrain at the beginning is relatively flat without any rocks or sticks blocking your path.

The trail gets much steeper as you move up, culminating in a zigzag path near the peak that will take you the rest of the way.

If you want a longer and more direct hike, you can take the Coral Canyon Fall Line, which will take you up to the Corral Canyon peak, and then continue for another couple of kilometers. 

Best Long Hike in Malibu: Mishe Mokwa

  • Distance: 10.9 km
  • Ascension: 516 m
  • Popularity: High

Some hikers feel unaccomplished if they’re not in the forest all day.

Short excursions and day trips just don’t satisfy people with the hiking hunger.

If you’re looking for an all-day hike with spectacular views, Mishe Mokwa is the hike for you. 

The hike travels across two peaks: Sandstone (like the Westside of Boney trail we mentioned earlier) and the Tri-Peaks.

Both of these peaks consist of sandstone rocks that tower over the semi-desert landscape of Southern California.

You’ll also see plenty of California’s beautiful wildflowers. 

This trail is in the Santa Monica mountains and only a short drive from Malibu.

The hike is a little bit intense and not just because it’s long.

Close to Sandstone peak, you’ll encounter a very steep stretch of rocky path that is often crowded. 

Watch your step, and be careful about the time of day when you start.

The beginning part of the hike is relatively shady, but once you get on top of the mountains, there will be no sun protection. 

Best Easy Hiking Trail in Malibu: Malibu Lagoon State Beach

  • Distance: 3.4 km
  • Ascension: 15 m
  • Popularity: High

If you’re more of a nature-walker than a hiker, you might be looking for a trail in Malibu that is a little less difficult.

Too much incline or duration can be discouraging and make you stop the hike before you reach the peak.

Malibu Lagoon State Beach is perfect for hikers of all abilities and preferences. 

The hike begins on a beach, be careful because some hikers have reported the sea hiding the trail at high-tide.

Along the path, you’ll travel the Pacific coastline and listen to the loud waves crash on the shore.

Then you’ll reach a beautiful lagoon filled with seabirds and other ocean life. 

Also along the way, you’ll see a famous beach for surfing and if you’re lucky you can watch the athletes catch some waves.

Afterward, you’ll pass by the Malibu Pier (an excellent place for seafood) and the Adamson House, an example of Spanish/Moorish revival architecture. 

Best Sea-Cliff Hike in Malibu: Malibu Bluff Trail

  • Distance: 2.6 km
  • Ascension: 47 m
  • Popularity: Low

Nothing says Malibu like a sandstone cliff towering over the oceanfront.

This view is one experience you won’t want to miss in Malibu because you can see a great perspective of the ocean and the casual coastline and the seaside mansions there. 

The Malibu Bluff Trail is the perfect way to get a sea cliff view because it’s rarely crowded.

Other trails will draw the tourist, so you will likely have this one to yourself with only a few passersby. 

Be careful. The low popularity may mean that some of the trails will be overgrown. 

At the top of the trail, you’ll come out to an overlook where you’ll see the pacific ocean as well as a string of coastal Malibu homes. 

Best Challenging Trail in Malibu: Saddle Peak via the Backbone Trail 

  • Distance: 14.8 km
  • Ascension: 696 m
  • Popularity: Average

If you’re an experienced hiker, then you probably want a hike you will feel in your legs the next day.

You want the peak to feel rewarding not only because it’s scenic but because you worked so hard to get there.

You’ll find a challenge on Saddle Peak. 

This hike is inside Malibu Creek State Park, the first state park inland from Malibu.

Saddle Peak is the second-highest peak in the park behind Sandstone Peak, both of which are a part of the Santa Monica Mountains. 

This trail is more challenging than Sandstone Peak because the final leg of the journey is much steeper.

Hikers reviewed it as very satisfying and beautiful. 

There is limited parking at the start of this hike, so you will want to arrive early. 

Best Waterfall Hiking Trail in Malibu: Escondido Falls Trail

  • Distance: 6 km
  • Ascension: 191 m
  • Popularity: Average 

Nothing quite ends a hike like a waterfall.

The water cascading over cliffs or rock walls makes for beautiful photos and a refreshing mist that cools your sweaty face.

There are a few waterfalls near Malibu, but Escondido Falls has the best hike. 

You’ll see two waterfalls on this hike.

The first leg of the journey (and a trip to the first falls) is relatively easy, and the falls are mostly unimpressive.

However, if you continue up to the second waterfall, you’ll find a much larger set of falls with a more intricate drop. 

Be careful when you climb up to the second waterfall.

It’s very slippery but worth it.

The parking lot is small, but there is parking available on the Pacific Coast Highway. 

Best Loop Hiking Trail in Malibu: Solstice Canyon Loop

  • Distance: 5.1 km
  • Ascension: 243 m
  • Popularity: High

Some hikers like to finish at the peak and walk back down, but that can be kind of repetitive.

Loop trails allow you to reach vistas and travel back along a different path, allowing you to experience unique terrain and scenery.

Solstice Canyon Loop is one of the most scenic in Southern California. 

One of the best parts of the Solstice Canyon Loop is its shade cover.

Most trails around Malibu will involve the sun beating on your head and neck relentlessly.

In Solstice Canyon, the mountain and tree tops provide some protection from the heat. 

Any loop needs a lot of attractions, and Solstice Canyon doesn’t disappoint.

If there’s been rain recently, you’ll see a 30 ft waterfall, exotic plants, pools of water, and a babbling creek for you to cross over.

Before you cross the creek, check the ruins there for a statue of the Virgin Mary.

It was hidden there for hikers to find. 

Wrap Up

The trail you choose is up to you.

Your hiking abilities and preferences for scenery will determine whether something like Solstice Canyon Loop or West Side of Boney is the right trip for you.

Make sure you don’t start on any hikes too tricky for yourself as it can be dangerous. 

Hiking is a fantastic way to learn about nature in the area.

Your trip to Malibu doesn’t have to be only beach cocktails and nightclubs.

Reconnect with the nature around you and enjoy the ocean breeze for a fantastic outdoor experience in Southern California.

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