What better way to spend a day in paradise than to immerse yourself in the simple act of walking within it?
We’ve all read the yelp reviews and seen pictures and videos on instagram of hiking in the hills and cliffs of Malibu— but how many have actually taken the whole day to let go and absorb the privilege it truly is to trek a land so ancient, biologically diverse, and visually stunning?
From a local’s perspective, this land is something to be cherished, walked among, and remembered for what it originally was— the home of a once great people who’s fulfillment in life was seeing the next rising sun down the coast.
Well, I’m here to help you see my home through those eyes, lovely people. So pack a lunch, lots of water, and bring your camera because this land is our land, and I want to share the perfect day in Malibu with you.
#3: Bush Drive
For those of you who like to get that heart thumpin, this one’s for you. There’s great parking, and hardly anyone on the trail compared to Winding Way. (*side note: if anyone ever tells you to check out Winding Way, don’t. It used to be great, and now because it has been so heavily visited and mistreated it’s just… sad. Parking is awful, half the hike is getting to the trail head from PCH and the “waterfalls” are virtually non-existent and anti-climactic… do yourself a favor, and don’t do it. Tell your friends too.)
Anyways, you have two options; one, you can walk to your right on the loop trial that takes you down into the canyon and in the shade amongst trees and a sometimes babbling brook that is very pleasant and mildly rewarding physically
OR! Two— you can tough it like the badass you are and climb that hill for a spectacular panoramic view of the Malibu coast, breathing heavily in awe and satisfaction, and enjoying a well-deserved packed lunch, ya dang viking!
The hill is a fire trail, used as an access to the area in case of a brush fire, but it also doubles as a very forgiving climb to a plateau that, if you are just feeling like conquering the world today, eventually leads to the Backbone trail on Kanan. If you do want to do that, I suggest getting an early start and a ride at the end, because that is an all-day excursion my friend.
#2: Solstice Canyon
So, I’m just gonna go out and say that this isn’t really much of a hike, but it’s an awesome, steady walk, with lots of diversity in scenery and really cool old buildings that have long since been destroyed by time. If you’re the look-around-and-explore type, this is the hike for you today.
I’m not going to go into the details of the history, partially because I’m too lazy to look it up on Wikipedia right now but mostly because they have a neat placard to read once you get there that explains everything and that’s part of the fun you curious thing you!
Now, you’re not really supposed to keep going up the creek, but because I’m a local it’s ok I guess. It’ll be our secret. There are some really sweet water pools up there, so take a look around! Just don’t tear out the roots from the hill, while climbing— it leads to erosion which is no bueno for people who want to come back…
#1: Corral Canyon
This, my lovely people, is the reason man weeps at the site of true beauty.
Alright that was dramatic, but still, this is freakin great. There is so much to do up here, you’ll want to spend the entire day just wandering around.
You’ve got the infamous “Mushroom Cave,” a local teenage hangout covered in paintings and carvings from over the years that has a better view than most mansions out here. Being a local, I can’t just tell you where it is cause them rascally kids will find me and make me pay for my betrayal, but I’ll give you a hint— it’s close to the rock circle, and you have to climb up into it through the boulder it’s hiding in. It may have just been the brownies, but a raven once led me back to this place after I had forgotten about it and wanted to show my girlfriend.. so you never know what can happen up here.
Also, there’s a dang rock circle! It’s enormous, and very fun to add to if you are so inclined. If you like labyrinths, this is almost sort of kind of like one, but rocks! Meditate, snack, stack, whatever man, in this place time practically doesn’t exist and there is plenty to do and see.
It has everything, from an old wrecked car half-buried in the ground, to caves upon caves upon caves to explore— so here’s what you want to do if you are the exploring type; park, then turn around and walk up the path that looks like the set from the Flintstones movie. Just keep going, and enjoy the wonder that ensues.
If you are the trail-type, instead of turning around, go straight and down the hill to the left of the lot. It’s better for mountain-biking, but the walk itself is really fun with lots of loops, drops and trees to shade the journey.
So there you have it— my electronic gift to you, dear reader. Heed my advice, and enjoy one or all of the three best hikes you’ll have in this little bubble on the west coast. Whether it’s to get your heart racing, inspired, or intrigued, you most certainly will not be disappointed!