Difficulty G Distance 2.1 to 5 miles General information: Dogs allowed General information: Hikes with free parking Rating: 4-6 Santa Monica Mountains (West) Season: All year

Zuma Canyon


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Featured in the Nobody Hikes in L.A. Guidebook!

Greenery in Zuma Canyon, Santa Monica Mountains, Malibu, CA
Heading into Zuma Canyon
Zuma Canyon, Santa Monica Mountains, Malibu, CA
Late afternoon, Zuma 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.

Zuma Canyon

  • Location: Malibu, near Point Dume.  From Pacific Coast Highway, head north on Bonsall Drive (a mile west of Kanan Dume).  Follow the road a mile to its end and park in the dirt lot.  Parking is free.
  • Agency:  Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area
  • Distance: 2.8 miles
  • Elevation gain: 100 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: G
  • Suggested time: 1.5 hours
  • Best season: All year
  • USGS topo map: “Point Dume”
  • More information: here; trip description here; Yelp page here
  • Rating: 6

People tend to overlook Zuma Canyon, which is one of the few places in Malibu that is easily accessible, but also very quiet–shielded from freeway noise by the hills that surround it.

From the parking lot, head north into the canyon. You soon reach a four-way junction with the Ocean View Trail and the Zuma Loop Trail. These are both options if you want a longer hike, but to get deeper into Zuma Canyon, stay straight.

At half a mile, the Canyon View Trail branches off to the right. You then reach the short Scenic Loop, an option if you want some variety and finally another junction with the Zuma Loop.

After about a mile, the canyon narrows.  The pinched-in slopes and the shade of oaks and eucalyptus trees add to the feeling of seclusion.  At 1.4 miles, the use trail comes to an end in a clearing.  Rock-hoppers can continue up the canyon, which reaches the Edison fire road after two difficult miles, but in order to keep this a family friendly hike, this is a good turnaround spot.

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