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Mishe Mokwa to Tri-Peaks and Sandstone Peak [CLOSED]

MODERATE 183 reviews

Mishe Mokwa to Tri-Peaks and Sandstone Peak [CLOSED] is a 6.8 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Malibu, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

6.8 miles
1,692 feet

dogs on leash



nature trips

rock climbing

trail running


bird watching


wild flowers




no shade

TEMPORARY CLOSED due to Woolsley Fire (Dec 4, 2018) The Mishe Mokwa Trail is a beautiful, well-maintained trail that takes you through a variety of landscapes and showcases the scenic views of the Santa Monica Mountains. When combined with Tri-Peaks and Sandstone Peaks, the view is improved considerably. This trail takes you from Yerba Buena Road (via Backbone Trail from the second parking lot) to the Mishe Mowka Trailhead and climbs north-west to the shaded Split Rock. Along the way, you'll pass Balanced Rock (on your right). From here, you head west to the (unmaintained) spur to Tri-Peaks. It's 0.5 miles to the summit of Tri-Peaks (3010'), and it's a lot steeper and more rugged than you've come across so far, but it also opens up to arguably the best view on this hike. There's also plenty of rocks to scramble around on, and if you're lucky, a nice breeze to enjoy. When you're done, head back down to the main trail, and make sure to follow the trail markers pointing you towards Sandstone Peak. It's not hard to get turned around here as the trail loops to the east, so if you're headed in the right direction, you should be passing two water tanks to your right. This portion of Backbone Trail continues to climb as you pass Inspiration Point, Boney Peak (in the distance), and then arrive at Sandstone Peak. The climb to the summit (3111') is fairly intense at this point in the hike (5.5 miles in, if you scrambled up to Tri Peaks and back), and it can be a little crowded depending on when you make it here. But you'll be able to read the crazy things people write in the registry, and add your own commentary when you get to the top. When you're done taking in the sights from the highest point in the Santa Monica Mountains, scramble back down and make sure you take your immediate right to continue east towards to the trail head. From Sandstone Peak, the trail will begin a steady and sometimes sharp decline, as you lose close to 1000' of the elevation you gained getting here in 1.5 miles. If you parked in the second lot, make sure to pass the first marker (signifying the Sandstone Peak Trailhead), and return to the Mishe Mokwa Trailhead, before turning right and heading back to Yerba Buena Road.

4 months ago

Definitely one of my favorites so far though not sure how often I would come since the drive in (coming from south east) is somewhat lengthy and windy. The trail is mostly easy to follow with the exception near Tri Peaks. You can never have enough sunscreen or water for this hike! Bring a hat.

Off of the Mishe Mokwa trail there is Balanced Rock trail (~ 0.8 miles in and out per map) - this is an unofficial, unkept trail and by no means would I recommend it to someone without a map because it has several false trails. However, the balanced rock is stunning up close and provides great shade for a break! Total hike, 7.6 miles, took me close to ~ 5 hours. Moderate difficulty best describes it. The views make it worth it.

6 months ago

Fantastic! Great views and a good workout. Not too crowded either-highly recommend.

8 months ago

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!

9 months ago

The back side is well shaded recommend doing that half during the peak of that. We started mid day and went the backside to the front and it was not too hot by the time we were in the sun again.

trail running
10 months ago

Really amazing trail. Many for the in-depth information posted here and the ribbons/yellow paint markers along the way!

11 months ago

One of the best hikes in Malibu; moderately difficult, great scenery and views

11 months ago


Thursday, March 15, 2018

It was beautiful but it was overcast most of the time. Can’t imagine how awesome it must be on a clear day. Started at 10am and only 2 cars were in the parking lot. Didn’t see anyone until inspiration point. Great day

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Very pretty but not very hard

Monday, January 22, 2018

A well balanced trail that is not very steep. The trail has short rocky areas you will need to climb. Fantastic views and nice rock formations along the way. Get there early as parking is limited.

Sunday, January 07, 2018

nice views

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Pictures do not do justice. I am a pretty snobby hiker and this blew me away. Love love love!! If you are going to Malibu to hike, this is your trail!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Great trail, easy to follow. Views from sandstone peak were beautiful. We did the trail in reverse (sandstone peak to tri peaks to Mishe mokwa). Trail was a great big loop. There were equally as many declines, flats and uphills so we never really got tired. Second half of the hike was all shaded. Our mile tracker ended at 7.5 miles and it took about 3 hours (including a break to eat).

Monday, December 25, 2017

This was a trail full of unexpected surprises. The best was the Balance Trail off shoot at just about 1.5 miles in if you start this loop going to the right. This off shoot is marked but is definitely not maintained. Best to have GPS tracking to keep you close to the trail. I thought this would only take me to another lookout area close to balance rock but it actually takes you right to it.

The view at Tri-peaks looking over the vast farming community in Camarillo was fantastic I was told that you can see all the way to the Rincon. The rock formations were really beautiful in this area.

Added a second loop on the backside of this trail near the tri-peaks offshoot brought the total mileage to 8.7. (Actually 9 as I stopped recording at one point by accident). All in all this was a fairly easy hike compared to other moderately rated hikes.

Sandstone Peak was a fun climb for the view but very crowded at the top. Most people seem to just do the trail straight up here and back which is great it keeps the rest of the trail quiet.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

One of my favorites. Long. The views at the top are amazing.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Did this trail in at the beginning of August and had the bright idea of starting at noon, aka the hottest time of day. This is a beautiful scenic hike that has amazing views of the surrounding Santa Monica mountains and the Pacific Ocean. Split rock is a nice place to sit down and take a little break before going uphill leading to the Tri Peaks out and back trail, from there you go to Inspiration Point and finally Sandstone Peak, the highest point in the Santa Monica mountains. Take plenty of sunscreen because much of the trail is not shaded, also bring some bug spray. I made the mistake of only bringing a little over 2L of water on a 90 degree day so I ended up running out, thankfully my brother had extra and I will never make that mistake again. All in all incredible hike.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Nice trail, a little closed in at spots. Hiked in flip flops due to poor business trip preparation, would not recommend that lol! Views at the top of the ocean were incredible. Great day hike.

Monday, August 21, 2017

I've done the Mishe Mokwa to Sandstone loop many times, but today was the first time I ever explored the Tri Peaks area. I'll copy and paste my thoughts on Mishe to Sandstone below, but first my thoughts on Tri Peaks.

As a first time visitor to this section of Boney Ridge, I found the trails a little confusing at times. I mean I was not worried at all about getting lost as I know all the major features and trails in the area, but the trails AFTER you make the 3 rights off Mishe Mokwa are goofy. Someone else here in the reviews called them false trails and it seems like a fitting name. That being said, I wouldn't go to Tri Peaks on your first trip up to Boney Ridge. Hike the regular Mishe to Sandstone loop to familiarize yourself with the mountain. Take note of where Sandstone/Boney peaks, Inspiration Point and the water tanks are. They will be your compass should you goof up navigating around Tri Peaks. On your next visit, set aside some extra time to explore Tri Peaks. Expect vague trails (at times) and some scrambling on par with Sandstone. You will be rewarded with views on par with Sandstone Peak, only you'll be viewing in a different direction. And there should be less people than the other popular spots on this trail.

- My thoughts on the rest of trail, copied and pasted from that trail review-

I park at the Backbone Trail entrance (east) and take the Mishe Mokwa trail up to the peak. I stop for a quick snack at Split Rock then push all the way to the water towers. If you take the little trail up behind the towers (it's very short) you will find a nifty place to sight see, eat and hydrate. Every time I've stopped here, I was the only one there. Careful up on that rock as you are quite "exposed". You won't be walking away from a misstep up there.

Next stop is Inspiration Point. The view to the south is the same as Sandstone without all the people and alot more room to "stretch out". There is a plaque dedicated to a young scout named William R. Plants.

Next stop is of course Sandstone. Expect a little simple scrambling to get to the actual summit from the Backbone Trail. There is plaque honoring W. Herbert Allen and a book you can sign.

Now you need to make a decision if you run this trail counterclockwise. Continue down Backbone Trail to the east back the car or go back the way you came. If you want a little bit more challenge and/or just want to be on the trail longer, go back the way you came. It comes out to about 8.5 miles and 2000ft gain as an out and back from the Backbone/Mishe trailhead.

A few notes.

- A good 1/3 of the entire loop has alot of sharp'ish stones as the trail surface. Minimalist trail running shoe wearers just be aware of that.

- WATER! Take more than what you THINK you need.

- Trekking poles prove very useful for me on this trail.

- There can be alot of insects around Split Rock. Consider some insect repellent or just bail out of there if you need too. Might be worse when there is more available water for them to breed...

- At the water tanks, Inspiration, Boney and Sandstone Peaks and the Backbone Trail in-between there is little or no shade. If you aren't wearing sunblock or are accustomed to sun exposure, you will get cooked.

- I have yet to see a rattlesnake on this trail, but I have seen a few female Red Velvet Ants. Not nearly as nasty as a rattlesnake, but can still put you or your dog in a world of hurt.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Monday, July 03, 2017

Great trail with so much to see and the views will take your breath away at each of the three peaks....definitely worth the effort all the way!

Monday, July 03, 2017

Great trail! It was a bit too hot yesterday and we were absolutely exhausted after the long hike. I saw lots of people with their dogs on the trail and just a quick reminder to bring lots of water for them too. The trail for the most part has no shade and the blazing heat is bad for their paws.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

The views on this hike are fantastic, well worth the exertion for a novice hiker like me. We started out early, got there at 6 a.m. and were the first ones in the lot, but it was worth it to avoid the worst of the heat. Because of time constraints, we had to skip the Tri-Peaks leg of the loop (a good reason to come back), but Sandstone Peak didn't disappoint. Make sure you hit Inspiration Point, it was one of the highlights of the hike.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

I do this trail often. Sometime clockwise, which means it's brutal right off the bat and then easy after Sandstone Peak, or counterclockwise, which offers a more gradual ascent, but a steep downhill from Sandstone on the way back.

rock climbing
Tuesday, April 04, 2017

This was an amazing trail! I highly recommend it. The views are gorgeous, I was a little confused when I got there but I found it after like 5 minutes. Haha. I did this trail by myself as a "finding myself" kind of thing and I've 100% found my go to spot. This is by far my favorite.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Started early around 7am and we were the first ones on the trail started out by going right. Within the first 30 minutes of the hike we ran into 2 rattle snakes the second was twice as large as the first. As you can imagine that kind of changed the mood of the hike for about an hour. Also as the path winds up and down before the creek and split rock was seriously over grown with some large bushes covering the entire path a some points. At one point my 6'3 boyfriend had to crawl on his hands and knees to get past the overgrowth. Once you're past split rock and going back up the trail it clears up a bit. Definitely recommend going early because after reaching each peak and having a snack the path began to get crowded with most people going the opposite direction (meaning they took a left instead of a right at the start.) bring lots of water! Would definitely do it again, the views were worth it.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Beautiful trail with awesome vistas and spur trails. Can be fairly crowded.

rock climbing
Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Great all day hike. Stopped for a quick snack at inspiration point, did some bouldering, and the pup slept for days after!!!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

It was awesome. Great views, great exercise.

Thursday, December 29, 2016


Sunday, December 18, 2016

Took my son's girlfriend who was visiting from Alaska and she loved the hike as well as the views. It was cloudy and raining at some points of the trail so we didn't have clear views of the ocean, but still beautiful. Not too difficult but challenging enough. Lots of loose rocks near the top so wear be sure to wear proper shoes because you do slip a lot.

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