Point Dume to Paradise Cove

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Point Dume Coastline, Malibu
Point Dume Coastline, Malibu

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.

Point Dume to Paradise Cove

  • Location: Malibu.  From Pacific Coast Highway (20 miles north of Santa Monica), take a left on Westward Beach Road and follow it to the end.  Parking is $6 per car on week days and $8 on weekends; after 4pm it is $3.  The automated machines don’t give change but do take debit/credit cards.
  • Agency:
  • Distance: 4.2 miles
  • Elevation gain: 400 feet
  • Difficulty rating: PG
  • Suggested time: 3 hours
  • Best season:  Year round (Low tide)
  • USGS topo map: “Point Dume”
  • Recommended guidebook: Afoot & Afield Los Angeles County
  • More information: here; Point Dume conditions here.
  • Rating: 6

Point Dume is a peninsula that can be seen from most of the coastal Santa Monica mountains, and it has a lot of history as a navigational landmark and a sacred spot for the Chumash tribe.  Today it is a popular area for surfing, swimming, whale-watching and hiking.  This route is a good introduction to beach-hiking, which can be harder than it sounds.

From the parking area, head up toward the bluffs on a fenced-in trail.  You rise quickly above the beach, and after turning right twice, you access a boardwalk that takes you to the edge of the bluff, with dramatic views of the ocean below.  The scene is similar to the cliffs of Anacapa Island.  Soon, you come to another split, where the main route heads to the right.  Straight ahead is another parking area, and to the left is an optional spur to the very top of the bluff (elevation 203 feet), where there is a monument describing the area’s history.

You have one more right turn to make, which will take you back down toward the beach.  Descend a steep staircase (be careful!) and head left.  There is some fascinating geology on the way to Paradise Cove, and you will also likely see a variety of shorebirds.

Walking along the beach can be tiring, but if the tide is low (see the link above), travel should be pretty simple.  There is one short stretch that requires some boulder scrambling and wave-dodging, but if you are careful, you should come through with dry feet.

Shortly after this, the pier at Paradise Cove comes into view, and you arrive after 2.1 miles from the parking lot.  There are a bunch of chairs to sit and watch the surf, and if you like you can walk out onto the pier or grab a bite at the restaurant before heading back.  This hike is also popular as a point-to-point trip, an option for groups of hikers with more than one vehicle.

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