Arroyo Sequit Park

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Switchbacks on the nature trail, Arroyo Sequit Park
View of Boney Mountain at dusk from the Arroyo Sequit Nature Trail

Arroyo Sequit Park

  • Location: 34138 Mulholland Highway, Malibu. From Pacific Coast Highway, just before the Ventura County line, take Mulholland Highway northeast for 5.6 miles and turn right into the park.  From the Valley, take the Kanan Road exit off highway 101 and head south for 6.2 miles and go right on Mulholland.  After a mile, stay straight to go onto Encinal Canyon Road.  After 3.4 miles, take a right on Lachusa, then a quick right onto Decker Canyon Road.  After 0.8 miles, take a hard left on Mulholland, and the park will be on your left in 1.8 miles.
  • Agency: Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy
  • Distance: 2.2 miles
  • Elevation gain: 400 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: PG
  • Suggested time: 1.5 hours
  • Best season: Year-round (hot during the summer)
  • USGS topo map: “Triunfo Pass”
  • Recommended gear:  hiking poles; insect repellent
  • More information: here; trip reports here; Everytrail report here
  • Rating: 6

For such a short hike, the loop in Arroyo Sequit park offers a wide variety of scenery, and a surprisingly good workout. While it’s best in the spring and can be a little dry during the summer, it’s short enough and has enough shade that it can be easily done, except perhaps on the hottest days. Tucked in the western corner of the Santa Monica Mountains, it’s a bit of a drive for most L.A. area hikers, but those who make the effort to get here will find it to be a pleasant surprise. The trail is quite rugged in some parts (although never too hard to follow), which makes it feel more remote than many of the other short hikes in the Santa Monicas.  Other than a few houses on the nearby hills, some satellite dishes and the occasional car whizzing by on Mulholland, the signs and sights of civilization here are virtually nil.  If you hike on a weekday, don’t be surprised if you’re by yourself; even on a weekend, you’re not likely to have much company.

From the small parking lot, head uphill for 0.3 miles on a paved road. This brings you to the beginning of the trail. Head left (you can do the hike in either direction, but we’ll describe it clockwise here). You pass by a small amphitheater that’s used by Santa Monica College for observing the skies, and then you pass through a pleasant grove of oaks before coming to the beginning of the Nature Trail.

The 1.5-mile long trail loops around the upper rim of the Arroyo Seco, taking in great views of Boney Mountain and the neighboring hills. You begin a descent into a cool, shaded canyon (watch out for poison oak), and negotiate a couple of tricky creek-bed crossings. It’s nothing a veteran hiker can’t handle, but families with small kids might want to take extra caution.

In the bottom of the canyon, beneath the shade of sycamores and chaparral, the trail becomes a little overgrown. After an almost jungle-like stretch, it climbs out of the canyon and reaches a junction. Head straight (the trail branching off to the left leads to private property), and negotiate a few switchbacks to reach the top of a ridge on the west side of the canyon. This brings you to a wide, flat meadow, above which the mountains tower. Follow the path back to the parking lot.

Text and photography copyright 2012 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. By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result from hiking on this trail. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.

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