Zuma Canyon, Malibu, CA

Zuma Canyon: Ocean View/Canyon View Loop

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  • Location: Zuma Canyon, Malibu. From Pacific Coast Highway (20 miles west of Santa Monica, 14 miles west of Topanga Canyon Blvd., 7 miles west of Malibu Creek Road and 22.5 miles east of Highway 101 in Ventura) head north on Bonsall Drive. Follow it 1.1 miles to its ending at the Zuma Canyon trail head, a wide dirt parking lot.
  • Agency: Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (Zuma and Trancas Canyons)
  • Distance: 3.1 miles
  • Elevation gain: 750 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: PG
  • Suggested time: 2 hours
  • Best season: All year (hot during the summer)
  • Dogs: Allowed on leash (exercise caution on warm days; watch out for snakes)
  • Cell phone reception: None for most of the route; weak in some spots
  • Water: None
  • Restrooms: None
  • Backpacking/camping: None (nearest is at Malibu Creek State Park or Leo Carillo State Beach)
  • More information: Trip description here; Yelp page here; area trails map and descriptions here
  • Rating: 7

Updated April 2018

The Ocean and Canyon View Trails climb the eastern wall of secluded Zuma Canyon, providing a good workout with a lot of scenic variety. While Zuma Canyon isn’t exactly a secret among L.A. hikers, it doesn’t draw as many visitors as other Santa Monica Mountains spots such as Escondido Falls and Solstice Canyon, making it a good spot for those who want a little more solitude.

From the parking area, follow the trail into Zuma Canyon. Bear right at the first junction (the Zuma Loop Trail is an option if you want a longer hike) and almost immediately you reach another split, 0.2 mile from the start. The Zuma Canyon Trail continues north while the Ocean View Trail heads east. The Canyon View Trail branches off in another 0.3 mile. The Canyon View Trail is a steeper ascent but has better ocean views on the way down. On cooler days, the Canyon View is a better option, while on warmer days you might want to go uphill on the slightly more moderately graded Ocean View Trail.

Both trails meet at the Kanan Edison Road (1.1 miles via the Ocean View Trail; 1.3 miles via the Canyon View Trail). The short stretch along the road, which at this point is more like a single-track, provides views into the canyon to the west and along the coastline to the east. If you’ve come up from the Canyon View Trail, head south on Kanan Edison Road; if you have come from the Ocean View Trail, head north. After descending to complete the loop, retrace your steps on the Zuma Canyon Trail back to the parking area.

Zuma Canyon, Malibu, CA
Heading into Zuma Canyon
Zuma Canyon, Malibu, CA
Sycamore tree, Zuma Canyon
Zuma Canyon, Malibu, CA
Morning fog in Zuma Canyon as seen from the Ocean View Trail (note the Canyon View Trail descending on the opposite side)
Ocean View Trail, Zuma Canyon, Malibu, CA
Mustard flowers near the top of the Ocean View Trail
Canyon View Trail, Zuma Canyon, Malibu, CA
Descending via the Canyon View Trail
Canyon View Trail, Malibu, CA
Close quarters near the top of the Canyon View Trail
Zuma Canyon, Malibu, CA
Looking west from the Canyon View Trail
Canyon View Trail, Zuma Canyon, Malibu, CA
Coastal view from the Canyon View Trail

Text and photography copyright 2018 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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