After last month’s disappointing hike to Eaton Falls, I decided to make it up by sharing one of my favorite hikes in the LA area: Sandstone Peak.
Soon after I moved to Los Angeles, my husband (who was then merely a classmate and newfound friend) and I began searching for fun activities in the area to become more familiar with the city. This was how we discovered the “100 Things to Try in LA Before You Die” bucket list from popular LA-based blogger Caroline on Crack. Both of us being adventurous, we decided to attempt to complete as many items from the list as possible. This hike was one of our earliest excursions. We loved it so much, we’ve been back several times.
A handful of eager classmates joined us in our first attempt to complete this 6.25-mile loop. Unfortunately, we arrived later than intended, found the temperature to be warmer than expected, and realized we were in worse shape than we had thought. We hiked 1.5 miles up the steep hill to the peak, enjoyed the beautiful views, and signed the register to announce to the world that we had succeeded in reaching the Santa Monica Mountains’ highest point. Then we turned back for the parking lot.
Not to be discouraged, we planned a second attempt a few months later, this time determined to finish the loop. A larger group of our classmates joined us for round two. This time we began in the opposite direction, heading downhill along the Mishe Mokwa trail to Split Rock. We stopped for a picnic lunch and enjoyed the shade before continuing towards the peak. The path between the parking area and Split Rock is the nicest part of the trail due to the abundance of shade, greenery, and the occasional creek. You won’t have much shade after this area, so be prepared.
As you hike gradually uphill towards the peak, you’ll see some beautiful views. Unlike Eaton Falls, this trail is well-cared-for and better appreciated by its hikers. I can’t recall seeing trash or any kind of graffiti on our three visits to the trail. As a result, I was able to appreciate the beauty of my surroundings and the company of my friends. The added difficulty of this hike is completely worthwhile.
When we reached Sandstone Peak for our second time, we felt a true sense of accomplishment. I felt it mainly in my legs and feet, but also in my heart. We had hiked almost five miles to get to this point, and we basked in this as we took a few minutes to look out over the sunlit mountains. We felt miles away from the bustling city of Los Angeles and from our impending film school assignments. We each signed the register once more, then began our descent.
Quick facts about the Sandstone Peak hiking trail:
Open daily, most parking lots open 8AM to sunset, year-round.
Best time to go: We went on weekends, but did not find the hike particularly crowded. We occasionally passed other hikers on the trail and were the only ones in the picnic area when we stopped for lunch.
Distance: 6.25 miles round-trip (loop)
Time: Several hours.
Elevation gain: 1075 feet
What to bring: Snacks, lunch, and plenty of water.
Dogs allowed on leashes.
Trailhead located one mile north of Circle X Ranch. Parking lot across the street.
Circle X Ranch address: 12896 Yerba Buena Road, Malibu, CA, 90265
Parking is free.