Mishe Mokwa to Tri-Peaks and Sandstone Peak

MODERATE 161 reviews

Mishe Mokwa to Tri-Peaks and Sandstone Peak 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
1692 feet

dogs on leash




nature trips

rock climbing

trail running



wild flowers



no shade

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.

14 days ago

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

16 days ago


1 month ago

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

1 month ago

Very pretty but not very hard

2 months ago

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.

3 months ago

nice views

3 months ago

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!

3 months ago

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).

3 months ago

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.

4 months ago

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

4 months ago

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.

4 months ago

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.

8 months ago

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.

9 months ago

9 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!

9 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.

9 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.

11 months ago

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.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Very good hiking..great view.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Nice hike. Took a friend and went to the right. TriPeaks for a sandwich break then summited Sandstone/Mt. Allen twice. Friend said he would wait at steps. When I was halfway back down he had changed his mind. Total of about 9 miles. Lunch and beer at Neptune's Net was a bonus.

Why does the recording show 9 but the track shows 7 miles? Same thing last week in Ojai.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

The HIKE is Fantastic, the Human SUCK.... went on a Sunday in Feb. on another perfect day in So Cal i knew it would be busy so i got there at 6:30...1st car there, it was a Great hike beautiful trail the Mishe part is just Super... I went counter clock wise and by the time i got to sandstone it was a zoo and the humans just ruined it.... but if you subtract the Humans it would have been a 5 for Sure. I won't even get into it, just too many people and city folk not prepared for a Tough hike or looking like they are on a hot date... week days, cold, a little rain anything to scare of the humans and it would be AWESOME

Sunday, January 03, 2016

The trail never gets boring it is 95% incredible views.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Great hike. I'd normally give it 4 stars but there's a few things to note:

1. It's crowded. At one point I saw 30 people tromp up to Sandstone Peak. And there isn't a whole lot of room up there. It made for an anticlimactic climax to the hike. So one star off from that.

2. The 1.5 miles or so from the high point of the trail (not counting the spur directly to sandstone peak) down to the parking lot is very steep in places. Not only that, but the trail is littered with rubble from rainstorms and runoff, and it makes for a little treacherous descent. It earns it's moderate rating here. In the last .5 before the trail junction that takes you back to the parking lot, there's a runoff rut that gets 2-3 feet deep taking up a third of the trail. For as popular of a trail as it is that's kind of concerning. Not a huge technical deal but I'm docking a star because dang son that's a kind of rough descent.

3. Inspiration Point is wide open comparatively, nice and breezy, and a great spot to have lunch. Only a fraction of the people go there, which is silly because it's like .1 of a mile off the trail. Stop there for lunch and to catch a breather. It's worth it.

4. Start early. If you start in the morning you'll catch shade through the first half of the loop and then be done before the hottest part of the day.

If you start early and go on a weekday I think that it'd easily be a 4 or 5 star hike. If you're doing the full loop and you're anything like me, bring water. Lots of water. I went through around 4 liters in 7 miles.

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