Point Dume to Paradise Cove Hikes in Malibu

11 Best Hikes in Malibu & Pacific Palisades

The best hikes in Malibu and Pacific Palisades will give you a glimpse into why hiking is a favorite pastime of many Angelenos. Who could blame us with the incredible Santa Monica Mountains as our playground.

Many visitors to Los Angeles can’t wait to get to the beach. However, very few know about the city’s excellent hikes. Pacific Palisades hiking trails are close to Santa Monica and easily accessible.

With cool breezes and clear ocean views, Malibu hiking trails offer unparalleled year-round hiking.

Here are the Pacific Palisades and Malibu hikes that we do regularly when we want to get outdoors for exercise or to appreciate sunny Southern California.

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Planning a last minute trip to Los Angeles, here are some great Malibu hiking tours and best hotels to stay overnight. You will also find the 25 Best Things to do in LA helpful when planning your trip.

Best Pacific Palisades and Malibu Hiking Trails

6 Best Hikes in Malibu and Near Malibu

The following ten hikes are some of the most famous trails in Malibu and Pacific Palisades. They are between two to seven miles long (3.2 to 11.2 kilometers) long, and all are considered “easy” or “moderate” on AllTrails.

Not only are these shorter and more accessible trails, but they are arguably the best hikes in Malibu and Pacific Palisades. And yes, your jaw will drop at these views.

This list of hiking essentials has everything you need to pack for a day hike.

Solstice Canyon Malibu Hike
Solstice canyon hike in Malibu is filled with beautiful wildflowers in spring.

Solstice Canyon Hike in Malibu

  • Hike: 3-mile (4.8-kilometer) loop
  • Length: 1 to 1.5 hours 
  • Elevation: 609 feet (203 meters) 
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Dogs: Yes
  • Parking: Limited street parking 
  • Restrooms: Yes

Welcome to Solstice Canyon, a trail so famous in Los Angeles that celebrities like Taylor Swift hike here too. With its 30-foot waterfall, rock pools, supposedly haunted house ruins, and historic buildings, it’s understandably popular.

And, of course, there are the million-dollar ocean views because this wouldn’t be one of the great Malibu hikes without those.

Explore the ruins of burned homes like the Roberts Home, where you can walk inside the mostly-intact house and see standing walls, tile floors, and fireplaces.

This trail, which offers some shade, can be as short or long as you’d like. Many hikers complete the trek in just over one hour, but for an extra challenge, you can hike up the steps and tag on a hike further into the mountains.

You can also take a short stroll down to the ocean to explore Corral State Beach. This is one of the best kid and dog friendly Malibu trails.

Escondido Falls Hike in Malibu

  • Hike: 3.7-mile (5.9-kilometer) out and back
  • Length: 1 to 2 hours
  • Elevation: 626 feet (190 meters)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Dogs: Yes
  • Parking: $12 per day
  • Restrooms: Yes

The Escondido Falls trail is one of the most popular hikes in Malibu because it has three waterfalls and a few strenuous, steep sections.

Because Southern California is often in a drought, don’t expect more than a trickle of water after several dry months. However, after rain during the winter and spring, this is one of the most spectacular waterfall hikes in Los Angeles.

Enjoy the easy first 1.7 miles along a shady path before you reach the first waterfall. Then you’re in for an adventure as you hike up steep, rocky terrain to the following two waterfalls. There’s even a rope that you can pull yourself up the trail.

Wear the best hiking shoes you’ve got for this challenging section, and prepare to get dusty. The reward is a foot soak in the rock pool at the top waterfall.

Point Dume to Paradise Cove Hikes in Malibu
Point Dume beach trail is one of the prettiest, family friendly hikes in Malibu.

Point Dume Beach Trail to Paradise Cove in Malibu

  • Hike: 4.5-mile (7.2-kilometer) out and back
  • Length: 2 to 2.5 hours
  • Elevation: 426 feet (129 meters)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Dogs: No
  • Parking: $15 at the State Beach or free on the Pacific Coast Highway 
  • Restrooms: Yes

We’ve saved one of the most remarkable trails for you, the type of trail that will make all of your friends jealous of your California adventures. It’s also a great one to do on a solo trip to Los Angeles.

The path from Paradise Cove to Point Dume Nature Preserve takes you to one of the best beaches in Malibu. There are tide pools where you can see starfish, sea urchins, and other sea creatures.

Between December and April, you may also spot a grey whale swimming near the shore. And perennial favorites include birds, seals, and dolphins.

However, this trail takes some planning as you’ll be hiking during the low tide.

There are only 3-6 hours between tides, so check the tide charts and walk at least one hour before low tide and one hour after. For instance, if the low tide is at 9:00 a.m., hike between 8:00 and 10:00 a.m.

Bring water, and don’t forget your sunscreen. For an extra treat, stop at a restaurant on Point Dume Beach. What could be better than enjoying a Malibu sunset while getting in your steps?

Zuma Loop Trail Hike in Malibu

  • Hike: 2.3-mile (3.7-kilometer) loop
  • Length: 1 to 1.5 hours
  • Elevation: 456 feet (138 meters)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Dogs: Yes
  • Parking: Free parking lot
  • Restrooms: No

The Zuma Loop is named “Zuma” from a Chumash word that means “abundance” (thousands of Native Chumash people still live in Los Angeles).

And this hike is abundant in views. As you hike up the first mile, you’ll be walking into the lush canyon.

When you begin to return, you’ll see over a blue horizon. For a short hike, you’ll still experience some steep sections where you may want to catch your breath.

For a more challenging addition, add mileage by hiking the Ocean View Trail. Zuma Loop is a hike that will be exceptional in the winter and spring after the rain because you’ll see more wildflowers and green hills.

Malibu Creek State Park
See the former film set of M.A.S.H. on the Malibu Lake Trail in Malibu Canyon.

Malibu Lake Trail Hike in Malibu State Creek Park

  • Hike: 6.6-mile (10.6-kilometer) out and back
  • Length: 2 to 3 hours
  • Elevation: 400 feet (121 meters) 
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Dogs: No
  • Parking: $12 per day 
  • Restrooms: Yes

Malibu Lake Trail is one of the most memorable hikes in Malibu Creek State Park, and you could spend one adventurous day here.

Of course, you’ll hike in to see the creek, rock pools, and marshlands. However, you can also swim, rock climb, and explore the abandoned M*A*S*H* film set with buildings and vehicles.

Most visitors hike in to see the set, where you can sit inside the old army vehicles.

During a hot day, you can splash in the creek or jump into a natural swimming hole. If you like rock climbing or bouldering, you can enjoy the volcanic rock boulders.

And horses are allowed on this trail, so look into reserving a horseback ride of the area. The hike offers beautiful views of the mountains and marshlands, with multiple shady trees.

The Grotto Hike in Malibu

  • Hike: 2.5-mile (4-kilometer) out and back
  • Length: 1 to 1.5 hours
  • Elevation: 561 feet (170 meters) 
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Dogs: Yes
  • Parking: Free parking lot 
  • Restrooms: No

This short, excellent hike takes you to the “grotto,” a hidden cave where a light waterfall flows down moss-covered rocks.

While you won’t get any ocean views, the main features are the cave and waterfalls, which are especially good after the rain. It’s one of the most peaceful spots in Los Angeles.

Hike over 500 feet down this “upside-down” hike to the cave and rock pools, scramble over the rocks, then return up the trail. The Grotto Trail is the perfect place for a small picnic with friends (bring a blanket) with sprawling oak trees.

The path is rocky, so bring shoes with a firm grip and a change of dry clothes in case you get wet. There are a few steep sections, so take your time on your path home.

5 Hikes in Pacific Palisades That Will Make You Love Hiking in LA

George Wolfberg Park At Potrero Canyon Pacific Palisades Hike
Potrero Canyon Pacific Palisades Hiking Trails are walking distance to Palisades Village.

George Wolfberg Park At Potrero Canyon

  • Hike: Multiple paths within a 46 acre park
  • Elevation: mostly flat
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Dogs: Yes on leash
  • Parking: at Palisades Park 
  • Restrooms: at Palisades Park

George Wolfberg Park At Potrero Canyon is a 46-acre park with multiple dirt walking paths that stretch from Palisades Park to an ocean overlook.

Though it is not a typical hike, it’s also not a traditional park. The landscaped area with native California plants and trees includes a meadow, benches, and paths, perfect for walk or run.

Surrounded by beautiful homes, the highlight is the views of the Pacific Ocean. This area is the best hike in Pacific Palisades if you want something easy and picturesque.

Mountain biking is allowed on the wide fire trails. Dogs must be on a leash.

Trails are open from sunrise to sunset. Parking is available at the Palisades Recreation Center. Access to the park is between the baseball diamonds on the north side and by the tennis courts.

Paseo Miramar Hikes in Pacific Palisades
One of the best cardio workout hikes in Pacific Palisades with massive ocean views is the Paseo Miramar Trail.

Paseo Miramar Hike in Pacific Palisades

  • Hike: 4.9-mile (7.8-kilometer) out and back
  • Length: 1.5 to 2.5 hours
  • Elevation: 1,236 feet (376 meters)
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Dogs: No
  • Parking: Not on weekends and limited street parking 
  • Restrooms: No

Paseo Miramar means “a walk with sea views” in Spanish, and true to its name, it offers excellent views of Los Angeles, the Pacific Ocean, and the Getty Villa.

This is an exposed fire road hike popular with both hikers and mountain bikers, and it’s easy to see why: that open horizon!

This hike is also a total cardio workout with significant elevation gain on the way up. The good news is that it levels out at the top and there’s a perfect spot for a picnic with an awesome view to celebrate your hard work.

Summer days will be hot, so hike as early as possible during the hottest months. Street parking is notably limited, so park here early in the morning or on weekday mornings. Part of your hike will be just getting to the trail.

Best Hikes in Pacific Palisades Temescal Canyon Trail
Temescal Canyon Hike in Pacific Palisades is one of the most popular trails in Los Angeles.

Temescal Canyon Trail Hike in Pacific Palisades

  • Hike: 3.1-mile (5-kilometer) loop
  • Length: 1.5 hours
  • Elevation: 879 feet (267 meters) 
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Dogs: Yes
  • Parking: $12 per day 
  • Restrooms: Yes

The Temescal Canyon Trail is a favorite Pacific Palisades hike. This short, easy 3-mile loop has incredible views, particularly when you’re hiking it counterclockwise. Bring friends on this impressive L.A. hike. Better yet, bring a friend with a dog.

The waterfall is small and seasonal, so if you visit during the winter and spring, you’ll see more rushing water.

The path can be hot during the summer, but there’s a nice shaded, essentially flat loop at the base with lots of foliage. There aren’t any ocean views but it’s good for a short stroll.

Great add ons to this hike include walking down to the beach and back on Temescal Canyon Road. It meets up with the bike path where you can go as far as you want. Or add mileage by hiking further into the mountains to Goat Peak.

Murphy's Ranch Trail Pacific Palisades
Murphy Ranch Trail may be the most interesting Pacific Palisades hike.

Murphy Ranch Trail Hike in Pacific Palisades

  • Hike: 3.4-mile (5.5-kilometer) loop
  • Length: 1.5 to 2.5 hours
  • Elevation: 633 feet (192 meters)
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Dogs: Yes
  • Parking: Limited street parking 
  • Restrooms: No

Murphy Ranch is one of the most unusual and spooky hikes in Los Angeles. This short hike takes you on a steep staircase down to an abandoned, graffiti-covered ranch.

This ranch is infamous as the former home of an anti-semitic, white supremacist couple. Locals nickname these buildings a “Nazi ranch.” The remaining ranch buildings are covered in graffiti art, which visitors heavily photograph.

Because this trail is tucked into the canyon away from ocean breezes, it is a hot summer hike so bring extra water. Near the ranch, there are many shady trees.

Some hikers visit the ranch during the evening, but it is supposedly haunted, so don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Inspiration Point Trail in Will Rogers State Park

  • Hike: 2.2-mile (3.5-kilometer) loop
  • Length: 1 hour
  • Elevation: 324 feet (98 meters)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Dogs: Yes
  • Parking: $12 per day 
  • Restrooms: Yes

We love this short and easy one-hour hike in Will Rogers State Park. If you’re visiting with an elderly relative in Los Angeles, this is a hike you can both enjoy.

Not only is Inspiration Point Trail a child-friendly, and dog-friendly trail, but it also offers spectacular views, shady spots and you may see a horse or two. Stroll on the wide fire road among trees, cacti, and wildflowers.

Stop at one of the benches for an ocean view, or bring a picnic for the family near the polo field. If you’re a history nerd, visit the Will Rogers Ranch House for a 45-minute historical tour (open four days a week).

Hiking Workout

Best Time For Hiking in Malibu & Pacific Palisades

If you’re looking for lush, green hills, the best time to visit is in the spring, from January to May. If you’re aiming to see cascading waterfalls, visit between December and April after recent rain.

In particular, April is an exceptional month, with comfortable temperatures, flowing waterfalls, and blooming wildflowers. If you’re interested in the most comfortable temperatures, you will enjoy hiking from May through October.

Southern California Hiking Safety

To be a safer hiker in California, your hiking essentials should include sunscreen, sun-protective clothing, and pack at least one liter of water per person. It’s also wise to know the weather conditions before hiking.

For current and forecasted fire weather conditions and warnings, visit the National Weather Service website and search “Malibu” or “90265.” You may also check for fires on Inciweb.

Learn to identify poisonous plants. And review what to do in a wildlife encounter. Many hiking websites will recommend that you do not hike alone, so if you walk alone, make sure you prepare for any risks.

If it has rained, be prepared for muddy trails. Many Malibu hiking trails have dirt with gravel. It’s best to hike with trail runners or hiking boots.

There are many hikes in Malibu and Pacific Palisades, but these are some of the best. What is your favorite hike in Malibu or Pacific Palisades? Let us know! We would love to hear from you.

Feel free to ask questions in the comments below regarding hiking or for information about exploring Southern California’s natural beauty.

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    December 2, 2021 at 1:02 pm

    I’d love to bring Reika on some of these! We both love to hike!


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