Zuma Loop via Scenic Trail

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On the Scenic Trail in Zuma Canyon
Oaks on the Zuma Loop Trail

Zuma Loop via Scenic Trail

  • Location: Malibu, near Point Dume.  From Pacific Coast Highway, head north on Bonsall Drive (a mile west of Kanan Dume).  Follow the road a mile to its end and park in the dirt lot.  Parking is free.
  • Agency:  Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area
  • Distance: 2 miles
  • Elevation gain: 350 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: PG
  • Suggested time: 1 hour
  • Best season: All year
  • USGS topo map:  “Point Dume”
  • More information: here; Everytrail report here
  • Rating: 6

This short loop provides a nice variety of scenery and a pretty good cardio workout, climbing up the steep west wall of Zuma Canyon.

From the Bonsall trailhead, walk north into the canyon. You pass by the Zuma Loop Trail (your return route) and the Ocean View and Canyon View trialheads, both part of another popular loop hike. Right after the Canyon View trail, look for the Scenic Trail, and take a right. The Scenic Trail, a short loop of about a quarter mile, lives up to its name, visiting a grassy field, getting up close to the east side of the canyon and providing nice views of the hills above.

Soon, the Scenic Trail rejoins the main route. Head right and almost immediately turn left on the Zuma Loop Trail, as the main one continues into the canyon. The Zuma Loop Trail begins its climb, under the shade of some oaks, and starts making switchbacks up the west side of the canyon. You come to a split where the Loop Trail continues to the right, farther uphill (the Rim Trail, which goes straight, is an option if you want a shorter hike). You get nice views of the mountains on the east side of the canyon and of the ocean.

After climbing 300 feet from the canyon floor, the trail starts descending. You rejoin the Rim Trail and finally arrive back at the bottom of the canyon. Take a right and retrace your steps 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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