Malibu Complete MALIBU HIKING TRAILS

Malibu Hiking Trails

Hikers at a trail head in Malibu Creek State Park, January 2006.Copyright MalibuComplete.com
Hikers at a trail head in Malibu Creek State Park, January 2006.

Malibu Recreation Off the Beach: Hiking

March 2003 satellite image of a portion of the Santa Monica Mountains Backbone Trail, one of many hiking opportunities in the Malibu area.  The Backbone Trail follows the ridgeline of the Santa Monica Mountains from Will Rogers State Historic Park to Point Mugu State Park, in or adjacent to Malibu much of its length.  This section of switchbacks is near Monte Nido.
March 2003 satellite image of a portion of the Santa Monica Mountains Backbone Trail, one of many hiking opportunities in the Malibu area. The Backbone Trail follows the ridgeline of the Santa Monica Mountains from Will Rogers State Historic Park to Point Mugu State Park, in or adjacent to Malibu much of its length. This section of switchbacks is near Monte Nido.

Since Malibu has miles of beach on one flank and the Santa Monica Mountains on the other, you are never more than a few steps from the beginning of a hiking trail.

Beach Hiking in Malibu

By California law, all beaches are open to the public "seaward of the mean high tide". Many property owners, in Malibu and elsewhere, have put up fences and posted misleading signs to intimidate walkers/hikers from traversing "their" beach. Forget it, you can ignore the signs so long as you stay on the public side of the line (generally the part of the beach that gets wet) and do not do anything unpleasant related to the private property you pass. Yes, this means you can walk past the Colony or other gated communities, and you may encounter celebrities, but be sure to stay below the high tide line and respect others' privacy to avoid trespassing and stay out of trouble.

Start at one of the public beaches or use one of the beach access walkways that are provided throughout Malibu. Turn east or west as your whim dictates and walk on. You will be rewarded with endless miles of sandy beaches, intermixed with rocky outcroppings and tide pools, the surf, and all manner of beach activity. If you get into an area of steep cliffs at the water line (e.g. Pt. Dume) take precautions since powerful waves breaking directly on the rocks you are trying to pass can be dangerous. At Malibu Lagoon and other active streams you will have to wade across the outflow to continue on the beach.

Mountain Hiking in Malibu

The Santa Monica Mountains have many miles of hiking trails, fire roads, and other possibilities for short, long, or even multi-day expeditions. The Backbone Trail, with over 70 miles defined, is the longest single trail, but the State and County parks as well as the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area have almost endless trails of all lengths and difficulty. Many guidebooks and websites, government and private, provide details of specific hikes with instructions and guidance. For example:

In addition, almost every canyon in Malibu has parks and trailheads where you can get away from developed areas, go to a hilltop and enjoy the magnificent views of ocean, beach and mountains that make Malibu unique in the world.

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