Stunt High Trail, Malibu, CA

Stunt High Trail

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Stunt High Trail

  • Location: Eastern Santa Monica Mountains. From the Thousand Oaks area, take the 101 Freeway to the Lost Hills exit (33). Turn right and follow Lost Hills 1.1 miles to Las Virgenes. Turn right and follow Las Virgenes 1.6 miles to Mulholland Highway. Turn left and go 4 miles to Stunt Road. Turn right and follow Stunt 3 miles to a small dirt turnout on the left side of the road.  From the San Fernando Valley, take Highway 101 to Valley Circle/Mulholland (exit 29). Turn left and follow Mulholland 0.6 mile to Valmar. Bear right and follow Valmar for a total of 1.4 miles (it becomes Old Topanga Canyon) to Mulholland Highway. Turn right and follow Mulholland Highway 3.8 miles to Stunt Road. Turn left and follow Stunt Road 3 miles to the turnout. From P.C.H. in Malibu, take Malibu Canyon Road north for 4.6 miles to Piuma Road. Turn right and follow Piuma Road 0.8 mile to Cold Canyon Rd. Turn left and follow Cold Canyon Rd. 2.1 miles to its ending at Mulholland Highway. Turn right and follow Mulholland 0.8 mile to Stunt Road. Turn right and follow Stunt Road three miles to the turnout. From Santa Monica, take Pacific Coast Highway west for 9.2 miles to Las Flores Canyon Road. Turn right and follow Las Flores for 3.4 miles to its end at Rambla Pacifico. Turn right and go 0.6 mile to Scheuren Road. Turn right and go 1.8 miles to Saddle Peak Road/Stunt Road. Make a hard left on Stunt Road and go 1.1 miles to the dirt parking area, which will be on the right. Approximate coordinates are N 34.0861, W 118.6589.
  • Agency: Mountains Restoration Trust/UCLA Stunt Ranch
  • Distance: 3 miles
  • Elevation gain: 800 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: PG
  • Suggested time: 1.5 hours
  • Best season: Year round
  • Dogs: Allowed on leash
  • Cell phone reception: Weak to fair in upper section, none in the bottom of the canyon
  • Water: None
  • Restrooms: None
  • Camping/backpacking: None (nearest is at Malibu Creek State Park)
  • More information: Area trail map and description here; AllTrails report here
  • Rating: 6

The Stunt High Trail traverses the north slope of Saddle Peak, linking Cold Creek Canyon with the Backbone Trail. The trail is often hiked as part of a longer route, either from Cold Creek Canyon to Saddle Peak or as a loop with the trail through the Cold Creek Canyon Preserve, when access is available. The trail can also be enjoyable as a stand-alone hike, as described below.

This write-up assumes a reverse hike (down then up), starting from the upper trail head on Stunt High Road and descending to the junction in Cold Creek Canyon. You can make it a one-way shuttle by setting up a second car at the Cold Creek trailhead farther down Stunt Road across from the Calabasas Peak Motorway, or by starting at that point instead, you can hike up then down, adding one mile round trip.

From the parking area look for an unsigned but clear trail heading down some stone steps and beginning a descent along the north-facing slope. Calabasas Peak dominates the foreground and to the west, you’ll notice the hills of Malibu Creek State Park, Ladyface and the Simi Hills beyond. The trail makes a pleasant descent through oak chaparral and manzanita, both of which are tall enough to provide some shade. At 0.7 mile, you reach Stunt Road again. On the opposite side, follow the shoulder for a short distance to another turnout, where the lower leg of the Stunt High Trail begins.

This part of the trail has more traffic noise but more scenic variety as well. After crossing a service road, the trail continues its descent, arriving at an attractive meadow with a large oak standing in the middle. After skirting the edge of the meadow, the trail drops into an oak-shaded ravine, crosses a wash (some of the trail is eroded in this area) and ends 1.5 miles from the start at a T-junction with the Cold Creek Trail.  This peaceful, if not particularly scenic spot is the turnaround point, although you can explore the lower reaches of Cold Creek Canyon by turning left. Just make sure you allow enough time and energy for the steady ascent back to Stunt Road.

Stunt High Trail, Malibu, CA
Looking northwest from the Stunt High Trail
Stunt High Trail, Malibu, CA
Meadow on the lower Stunt High Trail
Stunt High Trail, Malibu, CA
View of Calabasas Peak from the bottom of the Stunt High Trail
Stunt High Trail, Malibu, CA
Heading back up the Stunt High Trail

Text and photography copyright 2017 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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