The mere mention of Malibu evokes images of the mighty Pacific roaring onto storied shores as magnificent mansions overlook rarified surf. But what about the famous enclave's looming mountains where wilderness lurks above the finery? That's the glorious part of this Los Angeles mainstay that hikers seek out for fun and adventure. That said, consider the following Malibu haunts for athletic-minded Angelenos.
Can't resist a good waterfall? Opt to hike to the multi-leveled Escondido Falls, the highest waterfalls in the Santa Monica Mountains. The first tier, a fern-lined wonder at 50 feet high, is easy to reach through Escondido Canyon, partially via the nicely paved Winding Way at the start of your trek. Meanwhile, the higher tier at 150 feet high is a challenge to behold, but natural roots and an occasional man-made rope help steady you as you climb, so hang on tight and think bout your reward. Upper Escondido Falls is something special to behold, boasting wall of lush green moss, mint growing at the rear, and falling water splashing into a very still pool that feels about as far away from the fray as any hiker can get.
Malibu Creek State Park
For the ideal family hike, choose the eight miles of well traveled trails waiting for your clan at Malibu Creek State Park. Purchase a trail marked map at the ranger station and then start trekking along to discover everything from awesome views to lots of streams and head to the iconic set of the legendary sitcom, "M*A*SH." Many returning hikers prefer the Crags Road trail in a diverse park that encompasses 7,000 acres and offers all kinds of bonus activities like swimming, rock climbing and even fishing.
Zuma Canyon Trail
For some alone time and the chance to wander among the wild flowers with beautiful flying friends, verdant Zuma Canyon Trail is an 11-mile loop on which keen birders also tread, so look to the sky at least once in a while as you tread this moderately challenging path. Also know that this particular trail is not well known by uninitiated hikers, so don't expect big crowds to overwhelm as you take on this breathtaking opportunity to become one with nature.
Related: Best Places To Hike In Los Angeles
Charmlee Wilderness Park
Talk about scenic. Sitting on Malibu's inviting coastal bluffs where grassy meadows invite wild flowers to burst into bloom, Charmlee Wilderness Park also features towering oak trees and even an old ranch that is now in picturesque ruins. The mostly easy-to-follow trails are numerous although the looping area between the 530-acre park's landmark water pump, and the highly regarded Meadow Woodland Trail tends to be a bit overgrown. Not sure which way to wander? Then opt for one of many ranger or docent-led hikes scheduled throughout the year in these glorious parts of the Southland.
Mishe Mokwa Trail to Sandstone Peak
To reach the Santa Monica Mountain's highest peak where, on a clear day, you'll be able to see all the way from the San Gabriel Mountains to the Channel Islands, you'll climb upward some 1,600 feet along an easy-to-follow route just right for moderate climbers fascinated by extreme rock formations. This popular six-mile trail takes about three hours to negotiate and invites your canine friends to join you as long as he or she is happy to be connected to you by leash in order to do so.
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