Dry Canyon Trail, Solstice Canyon Park

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Seasonal waterfall in Dry Canyon
Oaks in Dry Canyon

Text and photography copyright 2010 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. The author does not take any responsibility for injuries sustained during hikes or walks on the routes described here. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.

Dry Canyon Trail

  • Location:  North of Malibu off Pacific Coast Highway.  From Santa Monica, take P.C.H. for 15 miles.  Take a right onto Corral Canyon (just past Pepperdine University, at the 76 gas station), and almost immediately take a left into Solstice Canyon Park.  Drive to the main parking lot (parking is free) and pick up the signed Dry Creek trail at the south end of the lot.
  • Agency:  Santa Monica Mountains, Solstice Canyon Park
  • Distance: 1.2 miles (out and back)
  • Elevation gain: 200 feet
  • Suggested time: 45 minutes
  • Difficulty rating: G
  • Best season: All year
  • USGS topo map: “Malibu Beach”
  • Recommended guidebook: Day Hikes In the Santa Monica Mountains
  • More information: here
  • Rating: 4

Malibu’s Solstice Canyon Park is perhaps best known for the Tropical Terrace mansion ruins, but this little trail is also worth exploring.  For commuters who don’t necessarily have time to do a huge hike but want to take a short little nature walk, Dry Canyon is perfect.  (It also happens to be a nice little stop if you’re driving from Long Beach to meet up with friends to do Sandstone Peak and are running early and want to feed your addiction with another hike and your girlfriend is cool with it.  Hey, if you ask her nicely, she might even join you.)  But I digress.

The Dry Canyon trail begins on the opposite side of the parking lot from the TRW and Solstice Canyon trails, and heads into a grove of oaks.   Far above, you can see the Darth Vader-esque TRW buildings and a few isolated houses.  After a short distance, the trail starts a surprisingly steep climb out of the canyon.  It becomes slightly overgrown and the dirt is loose in spots, making the climbing a little trickier than one might first expect.

The trail crosses the canyon, and at this point, you may notice a tall, thin, seasonal waterfall that cascades down the rock face following recent rains.  Shortly beyond the waterfall, the trail starts to peter out, eventually fading into the bushes.  This is the turnaround point.

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