Garcia/Ceram Loop (Santa Monica Mountains)
- Location: Northwest of Malibu. From Pacific Coast Highway, 21 miles south of Ventura and 25 miles north of Santa Monica, take Decker Canyon Road (Highway 23) north for 2.5 miles to Decker School Road (a Y-intersection that is easy to miss). Bear left onto Decker School Road and follow it for 0.4 miles to a bend in the road at mile marker 1.21. Unsigned Garcia Road, really a single-track trail, leaves from here. There’s no designated parking area but there is enough room for one or two cars to park in the dirt at the side of the road, either in front of the trail or a few yards back toward Decker Canyon Road. From Highway 101, take the Westlake Blvd/Highway 23 exit and head south for 9.3 miles. Take a hard right on Decker School Road and follow it 0.4 miles to the Garcia Road. (Note: if you’re coming from the north, don’t turn on Decker School Lane; you want Decker School Road which is about a mile farther south.)
- Agency: Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area
- Distance: 2.3 miles
- Elevation gain: 450 feet
- Difficulty Rating: PG
- Suggested time: 1 hour
- Best season: All year but hot during the summer
- USGS topo map: “Truinfo Pass”
- More information: Map my Hike report here
- Rating: 5
This little-known hike explores the slopes high above the Arroyo Sequit, deep in the Santa Monica Mountains. Although virtually no mention of it can be found online or in print and there are no posted signs anywhere on the route, it does appear to receive regular traffic, from equestrians in particular. The trails are easy to follow and well maintained. Highlights include views of Boney Mountain/Sandstone, the Arroyo Sequit and the ocean. Hikers looking for a trip that’s truly off the beaten path will find it here. This short route uses Garcia Road and Ceram Court – two trails that are so identified on Google Maps. Numerous side-trails branch off, allowing for additional exploring opportunities.
From Decker School Road, follow Garcia Road through an attractive collection of live oaks and chaparrals. At one quarter mile, bear left (the right fork leads to private property) and begin the first ascent of the trip, climbing a somewhat steep and loose section of the trail. Half a mile from the start, you reach a view spot where you get your first good look at Boney Mountain, looming impressively to the northwest. Shortly beyond, you reach an intersection where you’ll bear right to stay on Garcia Road, soon reaching a gate and a three-way intersection. Here, once again bear right and soon reach another intersection: the junction with Ceram Court and the start of the loop (0.6 miles from the start).
The 1.1 mile loop can be hiked in either direction. In both cases you will descend, either by Ceram Court on the left or continuing on the Garcia Trail, to Actaeon Street, a dirt road running behind the giant white satellite dishes that can be seen from Arroyo Sequit Park and the surrounding area. You will follow Actaeon for a few dozen yards before picking up your return route. If you return via Ceram Court, stay left at an unsigned intersection about half way up. Once you complete the loop, retrace your steps past the gate and back to Decker School Road, enjoying glimpses of the ocean. If visibility is good you may see tiny Santa Barbara Island, more than thirty miles offshore, straight to the south.
Text and photography copyright 2015 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.