Monday, September 5, 2011

#207: Hike to Sandstone Peak

I'm excited to tell you guys about my favorite hike this summer: Sandstone Peak in Malibu! A lot of people say that this hike is what made them fall in love with L.A. hiking, and I can see why. With each turn, you get spectacular rock formations, panoramic views and ever-changing scenery. Sandstone Peak is the highest point in the Santa Monica Mountains. We hiked it as a 6 mile loop from the Mishe Mokwa Trailhead.

Mike, Michelle and I left at 7 am and did the hour long drive to the trailhead. It was completely cloudy as we drove up PCH, and I thought to myself, this will be a nice shady hike because of all the cloud cover. Little did I know that the windy drive to the trailhead climbs steadily in altitude. By the time we got there, we were well above the cloud layer and the sun was in full force. Thankfully the hike is pretty shaded if you go early in the morning, so the heat was bearable.

We started the hike at 8 am (first ones at the parking lot!) and finished at 11. As we were leaving, the lot was packed and we saw people just starting. I couldn't imagine starting at that time, since the sun was high and it was getting really hot!

Balanced Rock

Some tips for your visit:
  • From PCH, turn on Yerba Buena Road. You will pass Circle X Ranch on your right. Soon after that, you will see the Sandstone Peak Parking Lot on your left. We didn't park here. We kept going a little more and parked at the Mishe Mokwa Parking Lot (also on the left).
  • We made a counter clockwise loop, starting on the Mishe Mokwa Trail and then connecting with the Backbone Trail. Here's a map.
  • There are tons of flies around Split Rock, for about one minute of your hike. You will descend into a shaded area with a stream running through it and picnic benches. I didn't stick around long enough to see if they were biting flies--I just ran through all of them with my mouth closed. No biting flies to be seen in the other areas.
  • We encountered one questionably signed junction. When you get here, stay to the left.
Stay to the left!
  • Go early in the morning if you are going in the summer. It gets hot there!
  • The 6-mile counterclockwise loop was moderately strenuous. There's a shorter way to reach Sandstone Peak, but it's much steeper. You start from the Sandstone Peak Trailhead and go clockwise. I haven't done it, but I read some reviews of people saying it was too much for them.
  • You will see some stairs as you approach Sandstone Peak. Take these up to a dirt path. Shortly along the dirt path you will see a rocky area. You must rock scramble a little to the very top of the peak. It's nothing too difficult.

Split Rock


Don't miss Inspiration Point. You'll see a small dirt path on your right.
It's just a little ways along that path. Beautiful scenery here.

Taking a breather at Inspiration Point

The view of Sandstone Peak (middle) from Inspiration Point.

The stairs to Sandstone Peak

Sign the notebook at the top

The monument at the top

The view from Sandstone Peak

Photo by Shimage

Sandstone Peak Hike


  1. I hiked at this park today, it was beautiful, thank you for the advice :) your blog is inspiring.

  2. Thanks for the comment! I'm happy you had a great time at Sandstone. An amazing place for sure. :)

  3. I hiked the 6 mile loop trail Sunday morning thanks to your inspiration. It was fantastic, despite the sore legs today! Ate a giant baconburger at Lily's Cafe in Point Dume to celebrate. I hope to try more 365-la places in the future. Thanks!

  4. Thanks for the comment Michael! I'm glad you had a great hike. I haven't been to Lily's but I've heard how good it is--gotta check it out. Thanks!