Mishe Mokwa to Tri-Peaks and Sandstone Peak

MODERATE 106 reviews

Mishe Mokwa to Tri-Peaks and Sandstone Peak is a 7 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.

DISTANCE
7.0 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1961 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dogs on leash

birding

camping

hiking

nature trips

rock climbing

trail running

walking

views

wild flowers

wildlife

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.

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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.

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2 months ago

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!

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2 months ago

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.

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2 months ago

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2 months ago

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.