Explore the most popular camping 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.

Did this trail at 8am this morning and the weather couldn’t have been better. It was a moderate hike that took us about 3 hrs but that was with a couple stops to take pics and to sit and relax at the top for a snack. I forgot to set the gps until .27 miles in. My watch tracked it as 6.32 miles back to the parking lot.

Definitely go counter clockwise. Amazing hike. Would do this again. The view from sandstone peak is incredible! Actually closer to 6.4 miles.

1 month ago

easy two mile hike
I did this hike as a night hike. beautiful And peaceful trail. once you get to the grotto you will see a bit of water. I'm assuming that when it rains, must he amazing.
avoid parking by the campsite, you will get kicked out. you can park on on the top entrance or on mullohand drive will take you straight to the trail
visit my I g Skyhighhiking

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

Nice views. Go early.

2 months ago

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

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

I really enjoyed this hike. However, the grotto was actually hard for me to find! When you get to the bottom of the ravine, there’s a wide open shaded space. From here, it was unclear where to go. I tried two ways. To the right there is a small trail. I followed it for about a mile but it was overgrown by tall grass and seemed to never end. I circled back and went left from that open area. There are lots of rocks here. It didn’t seem clear that I was on a trail. Then suddenly there are large boulders. They can be challenging to climb but if you go up to right, you can more easily navigate down. Eventually you’ll see the grotto beneath you. To get to it, you have to go up to the right and scale more rocks. This then brings you back down to the ground level with the grotto! Woo! I got a little lost getting back out. Watch out for poison ivy!

hiking
2 months ago

Definitely MODERATE, not easy. Very pretty but lots of rocks so watch your step!!

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

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.

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.

3 months ago

Where the trail ends the real fun starts : boulder jumping and climbing, canyoneering....

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!

hiking
4 months ago

Beautiful trail with lots of great places to stop and admire nature! I would rate it a "medium" instead of "easy" since it's mostly uphill/downhill. We will definitely be hiking here again!

A steady but steep incline up to 360 views from the summit, awesome hike and workout!

No shade. Go early morning or cool days. Can't give review of full trail. My dog overheated even in his cooling vest and stopping for water in shade. I def wanna return and see the views without him.

Bring snacks and lunch. Beautiful views and canopying trails at times. Green and majestic vistas. Recommend hiking shoes for climb or decent. Amazing and challenging. Wear sunscreen.

challenging uphill climb, rewarding vistas, and cool breeze from the ocean. amazing.

Amazing trail. Hike to mt Ellen highest point. Beware rattlers.

This is one of my favorite trails in LA since there are so many ways to experience it with it's different off shoots. You can take this lush trail to Balance Rock, Tri-Peaks, Inspiration Point, and to Sandstone Peak which is the highest point in the Santa Monica Mountains! The hike is a decent workout and is very doable with gradual elevation.

Parking:
This trail has it's own trailhead but I usually access this trail from the Sandstone Peak trailhead.

- @justroc @just.trek

The perfect day hike. Gorgeous views and nothing overly strenuous. It was a big overcast which obstructed some of the views but made for a great hiking climate. I arrived at the trailhead around 9am and there was plenty of parking and less people on the trail than when I was finishing up around noon. I took my Labrador and he was loving the entire hike, so I’d say this trail is great for active medium+ sized dogs. This is one I’d do again!

This six-mile loop is easy/moderate, and has beautiful views throughout. There is no cell signal once you’re in the mountains, so don’t rely on GPS to get you all the way to the Mishe Mokwa Trail parking area. Also, there are no bathrooms or water nearby, so plan accordingly.

hiking
4 months ago

My group hiked this on 6/14. We began the trail from a turnout on a the highway instead of the circle x ranch entrance. We began around 12:30am and we made it to the grotto around 2:00am, the hike back was pretty fast. We made it back to our cars around 3:30am. This route added 1mile each way to the trail. SkyHighHikingGroup. We get together and hike at night. For all the busy bodys and late night owls. We are based in Los Angeles. Great hike, good workout. There was water in the grotto, hike was easy but the return did make most of us break a sweat. Recommend.

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