Solstice Canyon: Summer Favorite

Though last week’s heat wave made it feel like the summer was not over yet, this is the last trail write-up for the summer hikes we did this year. Last year, I wrote 3 mile loop hike in Solstice Canyon. This time we will show you a new and longer route in the canyon which is my absolute summer favorite!

In August, an automated gate was installed and now it opens at 7 am automatically. You no longer have to wait for a ranger to show up and open the gate to the parking lot. I think the best way to do the Solstice Canyon is to take the side trails every chance you get. Eventually they all come back out to the Solstice Canyon trail which is mostly paved.


This trail has lots of history. There are ruins to explore along the way. The Keller House in the picture below is fenced and you cannot walk through it


but Tropical Terrace (a.k.a., Roberts Home) isn’t and you can walk around. We spent some time at Tropical Terrace and explored.




Pictures are collected from multiple hikes from this summer. In case you are wondering about different clothes and gear. 🙂 After exploring the ruins, we traced back to meet up with the Sosmoto trail. There is a sign on your right immediately after the ruins. Take the single track uphill.





More ruins on Sosmoto Trail.


When you see this sign, go left and stay on Sostomo Trail. Initially it is a downhill but you will eventually climb up and will have an ocean view.




You are where the green marker is in the map below. Turn right and do the Deep Valley Loop Trail to meet up with Sostomo Trail and get back down to Solstice Canyon Trail.


When you reach Solstice Canyon Trail, turn right and trace back to the trailhead. Check out the video from this hike on Instagram.

Good to Know:

  • Hike date:  July/August of 2016
  • Distance (RT):  6.7 miles
  • Elevation gain:  1,148 ft
  • Trailhead:  34.037814, -118.747579 (copy/paste to your GPS app)
  • Difficulty:  Moderate/Challenging
  • Free parking
  • Restroom available near the trailhead.

Happy Hiking!




Charmlee Wilderness in Malibu

The entrance to the park is clearly marked with a sign on Encinal Canyon Rd. Drive on Carmichael Rd until you see the parking on your right. Get an envelope from the stand (photo below), fill out your vehicle information, put the money ($4/car) in the envelope and insert it in the slot.  Now you are ready to explore the park.


After using the restroom (toilet w/ flush) located near the 2nd parking lot, we began our hike. Carmichael Trail was wide enough for two people to walk side and side comfortably.


We passed a large picnic area on the left with a bunch of tables. Xena was wearing her Ruffwear Swamp Cooler vest already at 7:30 am. It was July after all.


Overall, the trails in Charmlee Wilderness Park are well maintained but not all well marked.  But don’t worry.  Your cell phone will have signals if you want to check Google Map. Here is my route. As you can see, there are different ways to do this hike in a loop.


I did this loop clockwise. From Carmichael Trail, I turned left on to Russell Trail then another left at Potreo Trail. At this junction, I took this photo. Check out the marine layer fast approaching!


It got foggy really quick and I loved it! I couldn’t see where I was going but I didn’t care. The trail was pretty much flat so it wasn’t like we were going to fall off a cliff or anything.


On Potreo Trail (it’s the long straight line from my route), we found numerous interesting rock formations.


One thing that stood out to me was how much the birds were active in the park. If you love bird watching, this might be a good place to check out.


Then I saw a sign for Reservoir so we went to check it out but there was no water.


After that, we followed a sign for Clyde Canyon. Yes, we aimlessly just wandered that morning and enjoyed the nature. More cool rock formations!



We stayed on the rocks for a while and watched the birds. The marine layer covered the park like a soft blanket. When Xena got antsy, we got down from the rocks and continued on. Soon, the scenery changed to an open field.


She can be a goofball at times. 🙂


Then the scenery changed again.



I think no matter how you decide to do the loop, it will be around 3 miles. I found Charmlee Wilderness Park charming. It’s small but there is a lot to experience in the park. It’s definitely a family-friendly hike as well. Pack your lunch and enjoy your lunch at the picnic area after a little hike.

Good to Know:

  • Hike date:  7.10.16
  • Distance (RT):  3.1 miles
  • Elevation gain:  389 ft
  • Rating:  Easy
  • Restroom available at the trailhead
  • Parking:  $4/car, make sure to bring cash and a pen
  • Trailhead:  34.059108,-118.879238 (copy/paste to your GPS app)




Happy Hiking!

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 half way 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. Well.. 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 little over 3.1 miles (5K). Note: no shade. I recommend doing this clockwise by starting the loop from Canyon View Trail and connect with 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 (RT):  4.5 miles
  • Elevation gain:  988 ft
  • Time:  2.5 hours
  • Difficulty:  Easy – Moderate
  • Porta-potty available at the parking lot


Happy Hiking!

Mesa Peak Trail in Corral Canyon

Mesa Peak Trail is also known as Mesa Peak Motorway. From Pacific Coast Highway, take Corral Canyon Road. Stay on Corral Canyon Road for about 5 miles or so. It eventually changes to Castro Peak Motorway and leads you in to Malibu Creek State Park. There is a sign letting you know that you are now entering in to a state park property. Parking lot is less than 0.1 mile from that point and parking is free.

The first mile is the most interesting part of the hike. Colorful boulders, rock climbing, some scrambling and amazing views.

Since I saw pictures from here, I’ve been wanting to see the rings of rocks myself. About 0.75 miles in to the hike, Hazel yelled, “Your Rocks!!”. We reached at Corral Canyon Cave and the rings of rocks in front of it. I was not disappointed. 🙂



Can you find a heart in this picture?

Good to Know:

  • Trailhead:  34.082002, -118.758373 (copy/paste this information in to
  • Hike date:  09.12.15
  • Dog friendly:  Sadly no
  • Distance:  There is no really good turnaround point. Little after 3 miles, we just turned around and traced back to the trailhead.
  • Kid friendly:  Yes

Happy Hiking!

Corral Canyon Park via Sara Wan Trailhead

Hi everyone! First of all, I apologize for not checking in regularly last two months. Work and the weather kept me indoors most of the time, We had an unusually hot summer this year. Yes, I say it like it’s in the past because in my mind, the summer is coming to an end. I’ve noticed that the day is getting shorter. But the heat is still here. So is humidity. Southern California is known for its dry heat. It’s desert. So what is up with humidity?! Even though I am originally from the East Coast, my body already forgot what humidity feels like after living in SoCal over a decade.

So on one cloudy morning, I was happy to explore a new trail in Malibu. It’s rated easy-moderate with 2.5 miles. The trailhead is off Pacific Coast Hwy. A little morning hike with ocean view sounded perfect. Even if the sun comes out, it’s a short hike anyway.

Drive in to the Malibu Seafood Patio Cafe entrance when you see the sign below. The trailhead parking lot is on the right. There is a $5 fee.

After parking, take the little path towards PCH, from PCH you will see the trailhead on your left. Quickly, you are in the nature and you can’t hear the cars on PCH. The initial part of the trail is surrounded by overgrown bushes so I tried not to get scratched. Then, it opens up to a single file trail going uphill. I did the loop clockwise. I was nicely surprised by how quiet and peaceful it was not so far away from the busy road and the uphill was short but challenging. I was happy to be in the nature again.


I enjoyed this little hike so I went back for more. This time Xena stayed home and my sister met me at the trailhead. It was already sunny and hot at 7:45 am. First time when I was there, I noticed the trail met up with other trails so I wanted to explore more. We discovered that the trail met up with trails from Cameron Nature Preserve. The fire road was popular with trail runners. Now I can share the pictures from the sunny day. 🙂

Good to Know:

  • Hike date: August 2015
  • Distance(RT):  3.1 miles / 5 miles
  • Elevation gain:  645 ft  / 1016 ft
  • Trailhead:  25623 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265

Happy Hiking!

Mishe Mokwa to Sandstone Peak

Sandstone Peak is the highest point in the Santa Monica Mountains. On the morning of 5/31, it was overcast and misty. I was surrounded by low heavy clouds on freeways. I almost turned around a couple of times on my way to the trailhead due to low visibility. I was concerned about safety in case the condition was the same on the trail or even worse. I decided to make a decision at the trailhead.

With an excitement for an adventure, I didn’t really pay attention to the distance. After I got off the freeway, I still had many miles to go. After driving up the winding road for a while, I noticed sunlight leaking through the cracks of thick clouds. Eventually, I drove out of the clouds entirely. It was so clear. There was not even a cloud in the sky where I was!

Once I reached the trailhead, I was thankful for three things right away:

  1. No more winding road! I tried not to look down while I was on it because it makes me nervous.
  2. There was a bathroom facility! It was a long drive.
  3. I packed Xena’s Swamp Cooler and 80 oz of iced cold water for both of us just in case!

I wanted to do a loop counterclockwise – Mishe Mokwa Trail to Backbone Trail. The loop is 6.35 miles. If you want a shorter hike, you can just hike up to Sandstone Peak via Backbone Trail and then back. That’s little over 3 miles in total.


Canyon view from Mishe Mokwa Trail was absolutely gorgeous. I was glad I decided on the loop. Above the clouds, there was only sun.

I turned left when I reached the Split Rock.

Next small section of the trail was not maintained so I got lost. The group of hikers behind me caught up with us. They were lost too. So, together, we looked for a trail that seemed to be leading to somewhere and eventually, we found our way to Backbone Trail. I was glad they found us because I had no signal on my phone. On Backbone Trail, we found the clouds again.

In many pictures, you see Xena’s head shot in a corner or at the bottom that’s because she pops her head in often at the last minute. She is not supposed to be in the picture! 😝

Good to Know:

  • Total distance: 6.35 miles
  • Elevation gain:  1173 feet
  • Dogs must be on a leash
  • Take plenty of water and avoid hottest time of the day.

Happy Hiking!