Zuma Canyon in Malibu


The trailhead is located at the end of Bonsall Dr in Malibu. Easy enough.

As usual, I had to use the porta-potty once I got there. It’s the coffee, I know, but I must have my coffee in the morning. I must. I picked up a map at the trailhead – that was nice – and modified my hiking route a bit. It was such a clear bright morning and there were only 3 cars in the parking lot including mine. It was only 7:30 am after all. We probably would have the trails to ourselves most of the way so I decided to take my time and explore the area.

Zuma Canyon Trail starts out wide but it doesn’t stay that way for a long time. At 0.2 miles, follow the “Loop Trail” sign on your left. At around 0.34 miles, go to your right and stay on Zuma Loop Trail. At around 0.47 miles, you will come to another split and a sign. We took the trail on the right – Canyon Rim Trail – but I should’ve gone straight. I took a shortcut by accident and didn’t realize it at that time. Soon I realized though I was not on the Loop trail when I met up with Loop Trail again. What? I thought I was on Zuma Loop Trail! 😁 As I suspected, we were by ourselves most of the time. It was peaceful and serene. Here are some pictures from Canyon Rim Trail.

Canyon Rim Trail

When we met up with Zuma Loop Trail from Canyon Rim Trail, I turned left to see what I missed by taking a shortcut. The single-track path was partly shaded. Easy terrain with gradual incline/decline makes Zuma Loop Trail an easy hike or a great place for trail running. We came across two friendly female solo trail runners here.

We came across an abandoned home appliance. A dishwasher perhaps. I don’t know how it got there though.

We went about halfway then I turned us around to get us back on the right track. We trekked back to the Canyon Rim Trail junction and kept going. The next part of Loop Trail was my favorite! It’s always lovely to see green and get a break from the sun.

When you see a sign for Zuma Canyon Trail, ignore it and stay on Loop Trail until you come to Canyon View Trail. Before you reach Canyon View Trail though, there is a sign for “Scenic Trail”. I knew I would meet up with Loop Trail again so I went for it. If you skip it, you are not missing anything. I still don’t get why it’s called Scenic Trail.

Canyon View Trail – Ocean View Trail loop is the popular route for this area. If you are interested in doing this only, it’s a little over 3.1 miles (5K). Note no shade. I recommend doing this clockwise by starting the loop from Canyon View Trail, rather than Ocean View Trail. That way, you will have the ocean view coming down from the top. It would make a great sunset hike.


Good to Know:

  • Hike Date:  1.24.16
  • Distance:  4.2 miles RT
  • Elevation Gain:  1,017 ft.
  • Difficulty Level:  Moderate-Challenging
  • Porta-potty available at the parking lot
Get Our Latest Comprehensive Dog-friendly Trail List Here. Enjoy!

Happy Hiking!

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7 comments on “Zuma Canyon in Malibu”

  1. I missed this post in my reader, so I’m late with a comment. I had to laugh at your coffee and toilet comment. I face the same issue. I just have to have my cup of tea of coffee just before I leave but I know it will need a loo stop as soon as I arrive at my destination which can be tricky if there is no toilet and the land is devoid of trees of other hiding spots! Loved the pictures. Looks like another great spot. Canyons make for great views. I wonder if our word “Gorge” is what we use in Australia instead of canyon. I assume so as I’ve never come across a place called a canyon here, only gorges. Your canyons are super-sized gorges, I expect! 🙂

    1. Another thing in common! You share my concern about restroom availability at the trailhead. Haha! Less traveled trails are no problem. I just go and have Xena watch for any incoming hikers. It’s the popular trails that can be tricky. Canyon vs. Gorge, I thought a Gorge has water. At least the ones I know of here have water so I looked it up online for us. 🙂 “A canyon is a deep valley having steep sides, and a gorge is a deep ravine with a river flowing through it or a ravine without the river.” Also, it said “The word “canyon” is widely used in the United States, and the term “gorge” is widely used in Europe.” I learned something new. Thanks, Jane!! 🙂

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