Rustic Canyon Loop Trail

HARD 181 reviews

Rustic Canyon Loop Trail is a 4.6 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Riviera, California that features a waterfall and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.

4.6 miles
980 feet



mountain biking

nature trips

trail running








off trail

no dogs

NOTE: Please read comments and reviews before hiking this trail. There have been recent reports of the trail being washed out and very poorly marked in the swamp. It is recommended that you take the loop clockwise up the inspiration point trail. The rocks coming down are very steep.

14 days ago

Loved this trail for 4 out of 4.8 miles(going clockwise) BUT as many reviews (and park ranger will tell you) it just vanishes in the lowland swampy area. You can do it but give yourself plenty of time, light and phone battery because it’s not maintained at all.

Otherwise, this hike is fantastic, great elevation, beautiful vistas, lots of cool canyons and mountains back there.

Watch out for poison oak on the back side (going clockwise) it’s EVERYWHERE.

1 month ago

Not well maintained, trail difficult to follow

2 months ago

Really hard to find the trailhead (our GPS was off), but the loop was nice once we got going. We trekked clockwise, so there were great views for the first third, followed by a steep decline into the canyon (watch out for loose rocks), ending with a pretty technical ~1.5 mile stretch through the riverbed. Decent outing for sure, but you absolutely MUST check yourself for ticks afterwards.

2 months ago

Great hike but I only did one half of the loop because I got a little lost. I started at the inspiration point around 3pm. I missed the trail that leads to the creek(maybe because of the overgrown land?). But then it felt like I was getting no where and there aren’t many signs, only the “backbone trail” one. I got service and realized I just kept walking straight and I was already about 2 miles away from the rustic loop trail. Can be pretty adventurous and spooky at 6pm. So make sure you go with enough day light, or just don’t get lost like I did hah

2 months ago

Some gorgeous views from along the ridge, although at the moment the trail portion along the creek going out from Will Rodgers is overgrown and not easily passable. Can be a cool setting but it is tough going along the creek.

4 months ago

Actually hiked this last week -loved it!! Started at end of polo field - counterclockwise. Once you get to the creek, you will be crossing back and forth. Someone has used red paint to try and help people stay on the trail, but it's easier to see if you are heading clockwise. You start on the west side of the creek, but pretty quickly cross to the east side. As soon as you cross keep looking on the opposite side for the trail to pick up. You will be going back and forth far awhile! When you get to the waterfall, and you don't feel like using a rope to climb up the wall near the waterfall - approx .05 - .1 miles before the waterfall, look on the opposite of the creek and you will see stairs going up. At the top of the stairs, very quickly, you will see a path on your right which will take you to the top of the waterfall. From there, just scramble up the hill and continue with the loop! Recommend wearing shoes with a lot of tread so you can get traction crawling over the boulders in the creek and scrambling up the hills (at times I was grabbing the roots of various bushes to help pull myself up!) Challenging, but incredibly fun!!!

5 months ago

This is a hard trail in the sense that when you get to the creek the path deteriorates fast. There are a few ribbons and graffiti along the way to let you know you're ok. If you follow the water down you will eventually get to a sign that says Trail End. And then you go right (another sign saying Will Rogers).

Do this hike when there is no rain. The riverbed will fill up a lot and cause slippery and water hazard conditions. Also, wear pants and throw on some bug spray for good measure.

It's awesome and fun.


6 months ago

If you’re bringing children, a dog, or anybody afraid to descend rock faces, don't do the whole loop. If you aren’t taking any of those things and want to do the whole loop, go clockwise. The eastern half of the loop, along Rustic Creek, is poorly defined and dangerously steep in some places. Seriously, there are one or two sections where you have to ascend/descend 25 feet up a near vertical rock face and sometimes the only apparent route forward is to walk in the creek. Stay near the creek, as getting lost is very easy. The brush is overgrown. Avoid the poison oak.

That said, the challenge of this section made hiking it a rewarding experience. But it's definitely not for everybody.

In contrast, the western half of the loop, up the backbone trail, is beautiful. It is well maintained and the views are great. It wasn’t crowded even on a Sunday and suitable for any hiker or dog.

6 months ago

Great hike loved the views...

6 months ago

Great hike loved the views...

8 months ago

Went counter clock wise into the canyon. Took us the wrong way and led us climbing the side of the mountain. The map said we were in the right spot but we were not, I slipped and tumbled 20 feet but luckily clinged to a tree branch. DO NOT RECOMMEND. Trail is terribly marked in the swamp and you got lost so easily. Go clockwise up the inspiration point trail. That way is beautiful

8 months ago

I haven't done hiking for a while before I decided to go on this trail. My husband and started on the eastern side and I'm glad we did. I can't imagine how average hiker will deal with it. It's not so moderate - you basically have to climb the rock at your own risk. For us it was very adventurous and fun, but looking back now I think we were "playing with devil" going up the pretty steep rocks without any insurance. Overall I have say if you're an experienced hiker you'd love doing this hike, it gives a variety of challenges and the views are breathtaking, but if you're not, then better stick to the Inspiration Point trail.

9 months ago

Thinking of taking your dog here? DONT.

If you decide to go here make sure to take military 8 inch high boots so that you don't have water getting in your shoes. But even then you'll still need some gators. The eastern portion of the hike down Will Rogers Trail is not visible. It is literally walking thru the river in water that is stagnant and so full of algae it clings unto you.

Also, make sure you have the downloaded maps or an actual map because the trail has not been kept in years and half the time you'll be deciding wether you're still on the trail. By the way for some of you adventurer folk that seek to go here when the river has not subsided to an acceptable level, beware: DEATH!

If you were to go thru this river while it is high you wouldn't make it out. Even while it's low at 6 inches--4ft in some places, the algae causes you to slip. Trekking poles would be of no use as you are basically walking thru the river and playing 'Chicken Limbo' underneath tree trunks.

Furthermore, please do not subject your dogs to this hike it is horrible for them. My dog made it but we have been hiking for a while since she was young. As for other dogs they need to be carried thru major portions of it. Either way, it is completely unenjoyable for them. Good luck. Make sure to have your hands free so that you don't crack your head open when you slip.

9 months ago

Whoever marked this trail as "moderate" probably did not do the full loop as it is shown. I started at the polo fields parking lot and went counterclockwise, starting with the creek portion. The maintained trail officially "ends" when you reach the creek, so to continue on the loop as shown on this map there's about a mile or two of leaping on boulders across the stream, traversing the steep and slippery rocks on the side of the stream, ducking under and climbing over fallen trees, grabbing onto branches so you don't fall in the water, and when you reach the waterfall, using a rope to climb straight up a rock wall 20 feet. Moderate, my ass. There's a reason why most people who track this trail don't complete the full loop as it's mapped. That being said, the hike is a lot of fun. Just be prepared to use your hands, get dirty, muddy, and very creative.

9 months ago

If you would like it to be easier I would suggest going down the mountain instead of up. It was helpful to have gps on this app since the trail isn't always marked.

9 months ago

Tried to do the canyon part of this hike and the trail was closed. It says it is closed until June 15, 2017. So FYI. I ended up doing the inspiration point trail and then added to it by going up to the junction where you would head back down into the canyon past the highest point of the rustic loop. Then I turned around and came back down the way I came. Good hike even thought it wasn't what I had set out to do. The hike up wasn't that hard even though you go 900ft.

10 months ago

We did the hike counter-clockwise, ascending up Rustic Canyon.

The biggest issue is the over-grown factor when you're going up Rustic - plus there is a ton of graffiti. Once you get to the backbone you're 70% complete, and the views are fantastic.

Next time we'll probably skip the loop and do it clockwise - and once we hit the ridge just turn around and make it an out-and-back.

10 months ago

Definitely not for beginners. The start of the trail from the end of the Polo field is sign posted "not maintained" they're not kidding. After the first part of the trail winds off down to the creek bed the trail literally does not exist for a mile. So only walk this way if you plan on scaling rocks and getting wet. If you walk into the trail past the dry creek going clock wise from inspiration point then only traverse the creek if you are experienced.

11 months ago

Great trail for more experienced hikers! We took the trail clockwise starting from the top of the canyons which has some amazing views of the coastline from Malibu all the way down to palos verdes. About two miles in it takes a turn down deeper in to the mountain where it's pretty steep and rocky. Not too bad but then it starts to get harder once you reach the waterfall where you have to find your way down (about three stories from the top) and the trail is much harder to find. After finding our way down past a beehive and swarm of bees we followed along the river where the trail is sometimes on and off the river. There are some parts where you need to cross the water and or climb rocks along the side where you can easily lose your footing. We did consider turning back because we were pretty stumped on how to continue along the trail, almost went in to panic mode when we thought we were lost and would have to go all the way back lol. Once you reach the end of the river/trail you'll see the orange sign telling you the trail ends. Best feeling ever. Definitely one for the books. Oh and beware of beetles doing yoga, do not crush them

11 months ago

Unfortunately I failed it! Went counterclockwise and lost trail just passed the water fall area. It is not well maintained but it has amazing sight! Had lots if fun and will be back to conquer it! Ita more of a harder short trail ! You will get wet!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

It's tough and beautiful. The first quarter of the hike is deep down in the canyon, following a creek which we had to cross at least 10 times, including some climbing. That strenuous part of the hike took us about half of our total time. Please note: the trail is NOT MARKED and NOT MAINTAINED! You must have a sense of finding the right way, otherwise this hike is not the right one for you. After that it is a nice uphill to the top of the backbone trail, leading you down from there to the parking lot with beautiful views from downtown LA to Santa Monica. It's tough but definitely my favorite trail in the SM Mountains.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Went to hike this because of all the wonderful reviews and the recent rain would make for a great waterfall! We got half a mile from the trailhead and had to stop because we lost sight of the trail with the stream and the overgrowth! We later saw a warning for poison oak, bee swarms and snakes!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Great trail however if you do it clock-wise.. trail is gone about .5 mile away from bottom. It doesn't exist. So we had to backtrack 2 miles

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Great hiking gotta go again

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Very good hike challenge the deeper you go happy camping mate

Thursday, November 24, 2016

I like hiking, but I'm not physically fit for hiking uphills and going through rocky narrow paths and that's what this trail gave me mostly haha. Even though I feel like I almost died, this trail was such an adventure and we didn't even go through the graffiti abandoned buildings and the backbone bridge that everyone is talking about -- sadly, we didn't know about those spots. We had a friend who apparently has been here before who lead us through a looping wooden stairs (that's probably about 400 stairs) that's all covered in dirt and then we were supposed to go through this pathway thats over the edge of the mountain but it was closed so we decided to just go down, which was the muddy and wet creek area. Going through the creek was all our first times so we didn't even know what was ahead of us or what obstacles we had to face (even the guy who had been to Rustic Canyon trail before). Going through the creek felt like I was at an anaconda movie, thank goodness there weren't any snakes. After a rain and going through that creek with a non hiking shoes was not the greatest idea, but again it was an adventure. Then we finally found an actual trail path which lead us to the Will Rogers park and walked up through an actual trail (that's when we started to see other hikers..I was so happy. I thought I'd never get outta that creek). About .5-a mile into this canyon trail, we got lost of trying to go back to where we started without going through the creek. So we went back. Back down and through the creek. And that's when we realized that there were poison oaks at the creek. Going back up was the hardest. I had to stop so many times and my two friends who was with me had to keep motivating me that we were almost there. Going back up those wooden stairs killed me more, I told my friends to just leave me. I couldn't feel my legs.
If anyone has hiked the Potato Chip Rock, this hike was worse for me. I got battle scars all over my body from branches and thorns to prove it and a sore ass body the next morning. Again, it was an adventure but never again.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

This was an interesting adventure. I took this clockwise (I'd recommend the other way for better views). In the direction I went...
The hike up to the peak is a great trail, well maintained, with spectacular view of the LA basin and Santa Monica Bay. Could see all the way to downtown LA, San Pedro Hill, Catalina, and even Santa Barbara Island.
The trail down to Rustic Canyon is somewhat overgrown and seriously eroded (but empty, if you want solitude). Fairly steep in places.
Upper Rustic Canyon has a number of deteriorated buildings and foundations, all covered in graffiti (an interesting psychedelic look on the 'barn'. Unfortunately, the graffiti extends to trees and rocks.
Lower Rustic Canyon is an 'unmaintained' trail... it's overgrown in places, but also it really means it is mostly in the creekbed, so with a few inches of water as there was today and many crossings, it requires some agility (and will result in wet feet, if you don't have good shoes). After a rain, it might be impassable in places.

Monday, April 18, 2016

We had a good time! Not hard,nice views, good workout!

Friday, February 19, 2016

I have a group going this saturday at 12. were meeting up if anyone wants to join we would love to have you. We all want to get to see it again before torn down so if you've been come join us or if you havent and would like to we are always looking for some new company on hikes.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Trail is pretty rustic, plan to get muddy, advise is to wear waterproof boots... it was fun though....

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