Explore the most popular birding trails in Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Great hike and views. Wasn't very crowded either.

Great hike, bring and carry water though.

Great hike. Lots and lots of snakes guys. Be careful

I love this place “ Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail”

Nice views. Go early.

Dogs are allowed but be aware there are coyotes. I was with my daughter and two dogs. A coyote came up behind us and I think he was eyeing the smaller dog. Be careful!!

12 days ago

I thoroughly enjoyed this hike. Challenging but doable with spectacular views. Looking forward to doing this hike again!

This was a fun hike. I left at 320ish in the morning and made it to the peak right before sunrise for some awesome views. If you go at night make sure you're comfortable with walking through spider webs, because it's pretty much spider webs all the way up. I had to wave a stick a stick in front of me the entire time.

Beautiful cliff views

Awesome hike! Be sure to go counter clockwise. You get the shade going up hill.

hiking
15 days ago

This route has three sections. King James Court ( a street name) to the top of Dead Cow/China flats trail. Top of Dead Cow into China Flats itself. China Flats up to Simi Peak. We left at 7:30am and out by 10:15 am on an 89 degree high day. Always good to start early out here and bring plenty of water when it's warm and more when it's hot. Ok for dogs if they are experienced hikers with proven (reiterate, proven) time over distance and elevation. If not, leave them home. You can always shorten this hike and just go to the top of Dead Cow (which is what this trail is locally referred to from King James Court to the first top out before you go into China Flats and return. Great views. Not sure where these guys are telling you to leave from Cheseboro Parking lot. You'll be miles off course. Leave from the cul-de-sac at King James Court or alternately from the map they provided.

Very challenging hike on the accent for the top 2 miles. Trail is straight up, washed out and deeply scarred.
Much of the trail is covered by tall growth. Watch for poison oak in the waterfall areas. Some cool land marks to see though.

Tuff trail the elevation is a teal thing

Fire road!

This was an awesome hike. the views are great and even the "non-view" areas toward the back half offer entertainment.

Very simple hike. Very little shade. Watch where you step

This loop is great! Started around 8:30am and did both the Balanced Rock and Tripeaks spurs - Tripeaks was well worth the scramble through the heat. Make sure to take note of the trail on your way up as it can get a bit tricky finding the trail on the way down. There's a lot of skree so you'll definitely need solid hiking shoes/boots.

Route: I went counterclockwise and was relieved to have the continual downhill from Sandstone Peak to end the hike. Also meant that I was more on the valley side earlier when it was less hot.

NOTE: Bring plenty of water (with the extra exploring I did I went about 7.5 miles total and almost went through 3L camel back). I wouldn't bring a dog - way too hot for them!

Vistas: I just moved here so this may be uninformed, but I was hoping to have more isolated vistas from which I couldn't see all the houses in the area and some of the development in the valley. Still a great hike and would definitely recommend because when you aren't on top of something that is supposed to be a vista, you actually are pretty isolated and it's quite nice.

Difficulty: Different types of terrain, but this is definitely moderate, easy if you've done your fair share of hiking and are relatively in shape.

Detour tip: To make this hike a little longer I took a 1 mile detour (0.5 miles in and out) on the Tri-Peaks trail and got to a spot that was even more isolated with a learning of alot of rocks and boulders to lay around and chill on.

Sun: Some shade but still lots of sun so don't skimp on the sunscreen and water, especially if you have a dog. Passed several people whose dogs looked dehydrated and one couple who was carrying theirs.

Length: about 3.5h taking it easy with the detour, could easily be done in 2.5h, if not a little faster if you're moving steady.

This is a pretty neat hike. There are a lot of different trails here, so just make sure you know which one you're going up. The trail to the far left is my favorite. It has plenty of shade, but it's a bit of an incline, particularly at the beginning. I've run into snakes here and they didn't make any noise, so always know where you're stepping.

I did the full trail and I really liked it. There was shade at many parts of the trail but still lots of direct sun. I saw a rabbit and a few lizards. I recommend to go in the morning or late afternoon during summer.

Challenging but amazing view of ocean and many towns from top!

Beautiful mountain views on this trail! Had all intentions of doing an up and back (from midpoint in the loop) on his one, but 2 1/2 hours in, I headed on back - about 3 miles in, the maintained trail becomes an unmaintained trail. Not a bad thing as you can still follow the “trail,” but trekking this one by myself I did not feel comfortable scrambling the steep rocks up to the top of the mountain.
The trail ascends fairly quickly and steadily with few breaks in the incline and little shade initially. The trail itself is wide and well trafficked (I only saw a group of 4, and another group of 2 coming down, but it’s a Tuesday)…as you head towards Danielson’s Monument it becomes a single track with some coverage. As you pass the monument the trail becomes unmaintained and you’ll be scrambling up a steep incline with washed out ravines and large rocks. I would read the other reviews for info on the second half of the loop if you attempt that.
My mileage total was 6.8 and it took me about 4 hours. Hike would be better in cooler weather for sure!

Great hike but not a lot of shade on the way up. The incline isn’t too steep here, but when you factor in the heat it feels like the trail never ends. I would recommend going either early it be morning or later in the evening. I went at noon like a moron. Happy hiking!

We really enjoyed this hike! Not a lot of shade so I’d recommend going on a cool day. Tracking on Strava it said 6.9miles and 2,028ft elevation gain.

Nice hike, not too difficult but definitely a good workout. The trail is pretty narrow and there's lots of horse poop all along the 4+ miles. Had to keep stopping my dog from trying to eat it. Eew! My dog did get a tick on this hike so use bug spray and check yourself and your furry friends after.

Strenuous hike for sure . 4.5 miles uphill towards the top and then 4.5 down steep path. Past Danielson Monument it gets a little rugged, loose rocks and narrow path/trenches . Make sure to leave very early and bring lots of water as it is an unshaded hike for the most part. Also lots of branches as the trail is not maintained so be prepared for some scratches. Hardest hike I’ve done but worth it for the view.

Beautiful trail, lots to see even on a cloudy day! Split 5 litres of water between 2 fit adults, so don’t forget the H20 and ty to get on the trail early!

Easy stroll. Good to see and hear sea lions.

Terrific hike. Beautiful ocean views and enough difficulty to make you feel like you had a solid workout. Started at 8:30am on a Sunday and saw only 4 others on the hike. Serene.

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