Text and photography copyright 2011 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.
Cold Creek Valley Preserve
- 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: Stunt Ranch/UCLA
- Distance: 2.2 miles
- Elevation gain: 400 feet
- Suggested time: 1 hour
- Difficulty rating: PG
- Best season: Year-round (best after recent rains)
- USGS topo map: “Malibu Beach”
- More information: AllTrails report here; area trail map here
- Rating: 6
The Cold Creek Valley Preserve sits in the canyon between Calabasas Peak and the north slopes of Saddle Peak, which can be reached via a more ambitious hike. The short round trip hike through the lower area of the preserve, described below, offers a peaceful escape and a nice introduction to the area’s flora and geology.
From the parking lot, head through the gate and descend into a wooded canyon. You cross Cold Creek several times, under a thick cover of oaks and willows. It soon becomes very easy to forget that you’re anywhere near civilization. If you’re lucky, the creek will be bubbling along side the trail as you make your way down the canyon.
After a somewhat tricky creek crossing, you reach the turnoff for the Stunt High Trail. Soon afterward, you emerge from the canyon and get nice views of the Calabasas Peak geology and the Malibu Creek area. At another split, stay left (right leads back to Stunt Road), make a descent, and stay left at another split. After one last creek crossing (be careful!) you arrive at a green meadow next to McKain Road (a private street), the turnaround point. This makes a great spot for a picnic before heading back.