More than 500 miles of public trails crisscross the Santa Monica Mountains, offering a lifetime of exploration. We’ve got short, flat loops for first timers and rugged, steep climbs that lead to 360-degree views of the mountain range and Pacific Ocean. Many of our trailheads are a short drive from the 101 or Pacific Coast Highway, providing an easy escape from the urban jungle to natural wild places.

Note that trail regulations often vary depending on land jurisdiction, so always plan ahead to see if you can bring fido or if there is an entrance fee. Our Places to Go section offers detailed information about each site and their trails.

Here are some of our favorite hikes to get you started:

A large, dramatic balanced rock with green vegetation in the foreground and a distant mountain range in the background

Mishe Mokwa Trail to Split Rock: Moderate, 3.5 miles round trip
Traversing riparian, coastal sage scrub, and chaparral, this trail offers wonderful views of Carlisle Canyon and Balanced Rock. Split Rock’s oak grove offers a shaded spot for picnicking.

Trailhead: Circle X Ranch

Two hikers walk along a trail through an open meadow with large mountains in the background

Satwiwa Loop Trail: Easy, 1.5 miles round trip
Stroll through the grasslands and chaparral of the Satwiwa Native American Indian Natural Area. This beautiful meadow, with Mount Boney set as a dramatic backdrop, was designated for the preservation and celebration of Native American cultures.

Trailhead: Rancho Sierra Vista / Satwiwa

Ruins from an old ranch house are surrounded by tropical vegetation

Solstice Canyon Trail: Easy, 2.1 miles round trip
This popular hike gently rises from the main parking area to the waterfall and Roberts Ranch House ruins, following a creek through forests of oak and sycamore.

Trailhead: Solstice Canyon

A late-afternoon hiker walks along a trail as mountains fade into the horizon

Backbone Trail: Strenuous, 65 miles one way
Following the spine of the Santa Monica Mountains, the Backbone Trail is Los Angeles’ premier long-distance trail. While thru hiking the trail with overnight camping is currently not possible, many people complete the trail over the course of many day trips, including NPS-sponsored guided hikes each winter and spring.

Learn More: Backbone Trail

A man walks along a trail that winds and recedes into the distance.

Cheeseboro Canyon Trail to Modelo Trail Loop: Moderate, 3 miles round trip
Follow a flat old ranch road through valley oak savannah before ascending up a ridge for panoramic views of the Simi Hills during your return to the trailhead.

Trailhead: Cheeseboro & Palo Comado Canyons

Last updated: December 16, 2014

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26876 Mulholland Highway
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