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.
- Location: Santa Monica Mountains near Malibu. From Pacific Coast Highway, take Malibu Canyon Road 4.6 miles to Piuma. Take a right on Piuma, go 0.8 miles and take a left on Cold Canyon. Go 2.1 miles on Cold Canyon, bear right onto Mulholland, go 0.8 miles and take a right onto Stunt Road. Drive a mile and park in the dirt lot on the right side of the road across from the Calabasas Motorway. From the Valley, take highway 101 to the Las Virgenes exit. Head south (left if you are coming from the east, right if from the west) on Las Virgenes for 3.1 miles, go left on Mulholland and take it 4 miles to Stunt Road.
- Agency: Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy
- Distance: 3.6 miles
- Elevation gain: 1,000 feet
- Suggested time: 2 hours
- Difficulty rating: PG
- Best season: October – May
- Recommended gear: sun hat; hiking poles
- USGS topo map: “Malibu Beach”
- More information: here; trip reports here.
- Rating: 7
Calabasas Peak is a popular summit in the Santa Monicas, for providing a vigorous workout in a short amount of time, plus a great 360 degree view from the top and some interesting geology along the way. As most of the trip is on a western facing slope, an early start is ideal (in the afternoon heat, the difficulty rating could easily be PG-13).
From the parking lot, cross Stunt Road and head up the steep Calabasas Motorway. This fire road ascends quickly, almost immediately providing nice views of Malibu Creek State Park and the western Santa Monica Mountains. After a short uphill stretch, the grade mellows a little, and soon after at about 0.7 miles, stay left at a junction (the right path leads downhill to the Red Rocks geological formations, a good side-trip if you have the time and energy).
The climb to the peak continues, and you can see views of Thousand Oaks and the Valley to the north. There are also some interesting sandstone formations to check out, but very little shade. Depending on what time of day it is, the ridge itself might provide some shade should you want to take a break. (Short editorial comment: You probably will). After an S-curve, the fire road starts to dip down, and you pick up an obscure trail heading off to the left (by this point, the summit is clearly in view, so it should be pretty obvious). After walking up some rocks, follow the trail to the top.
At 2,163 feet, Calabasas Peak isn’t tall, but it does provide great views of L.A., the Valley, Malibu, the Santa Monica Mountains and on clear days the ocean and the Angeles National Forest. You also have great views of Saddle Peak, a hike you definitely want to do if you enjoyed this one.