The beauty of nature will always have a special place in every hiker’s heart. Some might think that something as simple as a mountain or forest would have no effect after seeing it once. However, most people that take the time to go on an unforgettable hiking adventure will tell you that seeing the majesty of nature hits unlike any other sight in the world. And even in a place as built up and busy as Malibu, you can still find great hikes that are truly unforgettable.
So before you start scheduling the next flight to the Himalayas or down south to the majestic Inca trails, there are plenty of options much closer to home! You will be surprised at how much natural beauty lies right at your backdoor, and the best hikes in Malibu give you the opportunity to discover it.
In fact some of the best hiking trails in the country can be found in none other than beautiful Malibu. This famous city in California might be most well-known for its great spans of beaches, but there are plenty of hidden Malibu hiking trails strewn about the city and its surroundings that are perfect for exploring.
So check out our 12 best Malibu hiking trails below! We guarantee they’ll bring you unforgettable memories and a great adventure.
1. Escondido Falls Trail
Although most hikers choose to do their trekking during bright and sunny conditions, there is one place in Malibu that only truly shines during rainfall.
The Escondido Falls Trail is just that. It’s also a perfect example of a great environment to start for beginners. Not only is this Malibu hiking trail a breeze to walk on, but you can also expect a breathtaking array of sights to accompany you throughout your journey.
Everything about this 4.2-mile journey is a cinch. The low elevation also makes this trek safe for beginner hikers to move around without experiencing shortness of breath.
Your hiking trail will cross creeks and pass by two other waterfalls as you trek a shaded path, and ends with a view of a gorgeous 150-feet tall waterfall that is truly spectacular after and during rainfall.
Do bring good hiking boots during your hike as the loose gravel on the trail can become slippery when wet. You can find the trail map here.
2. Point Dume Cove Trail
Who says hiking has to be done on a mountain trail? You can find that next great adventure from any location. And one of the best Malibu hiking trails out there comes right next to one of the most captivating ocean view experiences in Malibu!
Try out the Point Dume Cove trail if you want a nice sea breeze accompanying you throughout a short 1.4-mile trek to a beautiful ocean viewpoint.
You will find plenty of cool air coming in from the lovely Malibu shore on this trail, which makes this trip great for any time of the day. Alongside your adventure comes a pleasant stroll filled with colourful wildflowers alongside a view of some local sea lions sunbathing along the bluffs during the day. It’s a fantastic hiking in Malibu trail.
There’s also a chance to discover dolphins or whales alongside the coast as they swim near the shore. This is a hike where it’s impossible not to enjoy spending time basking in the views around you. See the trail map here.
3. Rock Pool and Century Lake Trail
The great thing about a hiking adventure is there’s always options for the entire family if you look hard enough. An excellent choice for some family-filled fun can be found in the tremendous Rock Pool and Century Lake Trail. This 4.4-mile easy trail comes complete with all manner of side activities that kids and adults of all ages can appreciate.
This location is one of the more visited hiking trails around Malibu, because it’s possible to do all sorts of activities from horseback riding, rock climbing, or even a nice picnic right by the pretty lake that the hike will take you to.
If you want a place that can entertain your family and friends without needing to rely on technology 24/7, then look no further than this terrific activity-filled location.
4. Topanga State Park
If you’re an aspiring adventurer and are wanting to spend some significant time soaking up nature during an outdoor hiking and camping experience then Topanga State Park could be perfect.
There are over 36 miles of hiking trails scattered around this state park. Each of these hiking trails leads to breathtaking views of nature from different angles and viewpoints. That makes this park fantastic for an overnight camping and hiking trip.
If you want some guidance, then there’s also a free guided tour every Sunday starting at 10AM at the Trippet Ranch located inside Topanga State Park.
5. Malibu Lake Vista Trail
Good news if you want beautiful Instagram-worthy pictures for your social media feeds- you can find one of the best locations for gorgeous shots while hiking none other than the Malibu Lake Vista Trail.
This short 1.1-mile trail is easy enough that anyone can take the opportunity to see what makes this spot one of the most photo-friendly locations in the entire city.
The views on the hike span from the serene Malibu Lake to the famous historic landmark of the Reagan Ranch staging area. There is almost no angle on this trail that doesn’t bring out the beauty of Malibu!
This has to be one of the most beautiful hikes in Malibu. See the trail map here.
6. Tuna Canyon
A Malibu hiking trail that will surely bring out the best in the pretty nature-filled landscape here can be found in Tuna Canyon.
This vast expanse of land is a local beauty that sits far from most tourists’ eyes. You might not even find the location of the trailhead without a proper guide or set of instructions – although we’ve done the hard work for you and you can see the trailhead for this great 4 mile hike here.
This grand adventure comes packed with sights that reach as far down as the stunning views of the Santa Monica Bay, north Malibu, and you may even catch a glimpse of downtown Los Angeles. There are also plenty of alternative routes that you can partake while hiking in Tuna Canyon. Each of these routes showcases a different part of what Tuna Canyon and Malibu have to offer.
What we can guarantee is the experience of hiking here will always feel worth it once you set your eyes on the gorgeous landscape in this canyon.
7. Mugu Peak Trail
You might think that all Malibu city can offer for hiking paths are some short strolls, however, there are plenty of long trails if you know where to find them. In fact there’s even some very challenging trails!
If you want to do a difficult hike that will require some skill, then the best spot in Malibu is none other than the Mugu Peak Trail.
This 2.7-mile hike might not be the longest trail for experienced trekkers, but it is difficult as there is a massive elevation gain of over 1,246 feet!
The incredibly steep path is a good challenge to those who want to test their climbing and hiking skills. It’s a steep loose gravel trail, but the effort is worth it as you will be rewarded with some of the best coastline views in the entire city. See the trail map here.
8. Corral Canyon Loop Trail
Another excellent ocean view hiking path is the Corral Canyon Loop Trail, which is perfect if you want to breathe in clean, all-natural air while also gazing upon some of the best views in the entire region. That’s because this 2.5-mile trek will have you staring right at the ocean as you ascend 531 feet.
Almost every chance you get to look at the sea will have you mesmerized and should entice you to push through! Once you reach the top, you will find a serene shady spot where you can spend some time relaxing with that perfect sea view right in front.
Expect to walk through thick vegetation and grass, so be sure to pack some long pants while trekking to make the trip as comfortable as can be. See the trail map here.
9. Los Leones Trail
Although just 4.4 miles long, there’s still plenty of challenge in this particular hiking trail as there’s good bit of steep incline as you trek towards the gorgeous viewpoint at the top.
Although the Los Leones Trail is quite a short hike in Malibu, the steepness is not something beginners will find easy. However, reach for the top, and you will find yourself rewarded with a great view of the Malibu coastline via the Paseo Miramar Viewpoint.
We recommend that you do this hike during a clear sunny day in Malibu, so there’s the chance you will be treated to a spectacular view of Catalina Island in full display while at the top.
This trek will generally last around an hour and a half, so it is perfect for a quick morning or afternoon hike. You can see the trail map here.
10. Temescal Canyon Trail
Those who want a gorgeous view of the coastline and mountains will find it hard to beat the sights offered at the Temescal Canyon Trail. This 3 mile hiking trail is loved by locals and will take you to a waterfall – albeit it is often dried up in hot months.
Go counterclockwise on this loop trail and you will get the chance to enjoy amazing ocean views on your way down. Expect a decent workout but be aware there isn’t much shade so it’s best to avoid this Malibu hiking trail in the heat of the day. See the trail map here.
11. Inspiration Loop Trail
The Santa Monica Mountains on their own are a beautiful sight to behold. And the Inspiration Loop Trail will give you great views of them, along with gorgeous flowers and a wonderful hiking environment.
You can trek this 4.2-mile long hike easily, but there is some elevation and some steep incline in parts. When you get to the top, you will be greeted by Inspiration Point Viewpoint and its breathtaking views towards the ocean and city!
The sunrise from the top is something special, so get up early for this hiking in Malibu adventure! See the trail map here.
12. M*A*S*H Hike
Fans of the hit Hollywood movie and TV series M*A*S*H will recognize this iconic hiking trail. The city of Malibu proudly commemorated the production of this iconic series with this path, making it one of the city’s must-visit hiking destinations.
You can find the various filming spots used in M*A*S*H while on the hike. The actual Welcome Wagon used in the film will also greet hikers during the trek as it was left behind by the studio as part of its gift to Malibu and M*A*S*H fans.